Elm Facts

Elm Facts
Elm is a type of deciduous tree that belongs to the family Ulmaceae. There are 30 to 40 species of elm that originate from central Asia. They appeared on the planet 20 to 40 million years ago, during Miocene period. Elm grows in temperate and tropical forests of the Northern hemisphere. Elm was abundant in the wild until the 19th and 20th century when fungal disease called Dutch elm disease wiped out millions of trees around the world. This fungus prevents transportation of water and minerals from the root to the branches and leaves and induces death within several weeks or years. Scientists are trying to create new varieties of elm that can survive destructive effects of this fungus.
Interesting Elm Facts:
Size of elm depends on the species. Some varieties are cultivated as dwarf trees, while other can reach the height of 115 feet.
Elm is shaped like a vase: its trunk consists of several limbs arched to the outwards. It has light or dark grey, furrowed bark.
Elm has oval or elliptical leaves. They are usually smooth, asymmetrical and double serrated on the edges. Leaves are dark green on the upper side and light green on the bottom side.
Elm develops bisexual flowers (they contain both male and female reproductive organs). Flowers are greenish-red colored. 3 to 4 individual flowers are gathered in drooping clusters.
Flowers appear on the trees before leaves, usually at the end of the winter or at the beginning of the spring. They are pollinated by wind.
Fruit of elm is single-seeded oval or flat samara, equipped with papery wings that facilitate dispersal by wind.
Elm can be propagated via seed, root cuttings, grafting or via micropropagation.
Bark and seed of elm were important source of food in the Europe during the famine at the beginning of the 19th century. Seed were especially prized due to high content of proteins and dietary fibers.
Elm is important source of food for birds such as bobwhite, prairie chicken, ruffed grouse and mammals such as possum and squirrels.
Wood of elm was used for the construction of longbows during the Middle Ages.
Wood of elm is pliable and resistant to splitting. Native Americans were familiar with these features of elm and they used it for the production of ropes and canoes.
Wood of elm is used for flooring and in the manufacture of coffins, chairs and in the shipbuilding today.
Elm was used in treatment of broken bones, gunshot wounds, diarrhea and cough in the past.
Elm is often cultivated as ornamental plant. It provides shade and excellent cooling effect in the urban areas. Single elm tree can provide equal cooling effect as 5 air-conditioning units.
Healthy tree can survive 200 to 300 years in the wild. Elm affected by Dutch elm disease cannot survive more than 30 years.

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