Your Guide to the Different Types and Diseases of Elm Trees


According to research, a vast majority of American homebuyers still care about lawns.  A recent survey revealed 79 percent of Americans state that lawns are still very important features for them when they’re buying or renting homes. If you’re thinking of reselling your property or simply sprucing it up, improving the lawn will give you a massive advantage. Planting beautiful trees along the property line or a single stately specimen in the back of the property can be all the boost you need.

Your lawn can be massively improved by a stand of stately ash trees or a grove of fragrant cedar trees. However, if you’d rather have trees with robust and beautiful foliage, you may want to plant elm trees instead.

Today, learn what are the different properties of elm trees, some of the types of elm trees as well as the common elm tree diseases you should observe.

What are the Properties of Elm Trees?

elm tree
Elm trees have amazing properties.

Elm trees are a genus of ornamental shades trees that are part of the Ulmaceae family. There are approximately 35 species of elm trees, most of which are native to temperate areas in the Norther Hemisphere. There are different reasons people cultivate the many types of elm trees, both in their backyard and for commercial purposes. Here are some of the properties that make elm trees so attractive.

  • Attractive foliage.

    There is a reason the elm is a type of ornamental shade tree. The different species of elms have some of the most resplendent foliage in the Northern Hemisphere. Each tree provides ample shade and vibrant colors, making them ideal for when you want to explore better outdoor living.

  • Elm bark may be medicinal.

    Elm has been a staple in the supply rooms of apothecaries and healers for centuries. Although there’s insufficient scientific evidence to confirm it, the bark of elm trees has been used to reduce water retention because of its diuretic properties. It may also have astringent properties, helping keep wounds dry.

  • Elm wood is water resistant.

    Elm trees are also a boon to furniture builders and woodworkers because its wood is highly durable to water exposure. Elm wood is so resistant to water it can even last longer than most types of wood when completely submerged.

What are the Types of Elm Trees?

elm tree
There are approximately 35 species of elm trees in the world.

There approximately 35 species of elm trees in the world, but not all of them grow in the United States. Some can be transplanted into your yard, like Japanese persimmon trees, with only a little difficulty.

Below are three species endemic to North America. Learning about their particular features and needs is absolutely necessary if you want to grow them in your backyard.

  • American Elm

This species of elm tree is the state symbol of North Dakota as well as Massachusetts. It has a distinctive canopy that is reminiscent of a vase. The spread of the American elm’s canopy can spread between 40 and 70 feet. It can also grow to 90 feet tall, taller than even most poplar trees. It also requires full sunlight exposure to reach its full height and growth potential.

  • Slippery Elm

Slippery elms get their name from the sticky secretions that come from their inner bark, also known as mucilage. These trees have lovely reddish-green blooms and have a delightfully red bark. These hues of red also lend the tree its scientific species name, rubra. Slippery elms are not recommended for home landscaping purposes because they are very susceptible to a lot of elm tree diseases. They require plenty of tree care to grow beautifully.

  • Cedar Elm

Among the different types of elm trees, cedar elms are the best choice for growing on an urban property. The cedar elm can tolerate growing on poor soil, requires little water and can even withstand certain levels of pollution. These elm trees are typically found in the southern part of North America such as Texas and neighboring states. Although this tree isn’t related to cedars, they are often found growing next to juniper groves, which are also called cedars.

What are Common Elm Tree Diseases?

Without proper tree care, elm trees can end up in the dump. Photo by Sharad Bhat from Pexels

If you’re planning on growing a stand of elm trees in your backyard, you’re going to need to know the diseases that are most likely to ruin their health and appearance. Some of these diseases can be averted and cured with a little tree care.

  • Dutch elm disease

The most prevalent of all the elm tree diseases. It manifests as the leaves on the branches wilting and falling off before their time. Over time, more and more branches are affected and even the outer layers will start getting ugly brown streaks.

Treatment: The only way to treat Dutch elm disease is to destroy all infected trees immediately. Remove the bark from the stumps all the way to beneath the soil line and burn all wood to purge the larva spreading the disease.

  • Wetwood

Elm trees afflicted with wetwood will start secreting a foul liquid from its branches and cuts. The foul liquid will leave gray streaks on the bark. The ooze can kill surrounding bark and turf it lands on. Despite its wet and slick appearance, elms with wetwood will rarely have rotten interiors.

Treatment: Wetwood won’t deal permanent damage to the tree unless it suffers stress. Such stresses include compacting the soil and receiving any wounds such as scrapes and cut branches. By no means should you insert a pipe into the tree to alleviate pressure.

  • Black leaf spot

This disease manifests as tiny black spots on the leaves, slightly raised and rough in texture. The leaves will wilt and yellow prematurely, causing them to fall off.

Treatment: Alarming as the yellowing leaves and falling off may look, there is no need for drastic management or treatment as the disease can be overcome with time and by removing leaves.

Elm trees are amazing shade trees and can add great value to your residential property. As long as you take care of them and monitor their growth, your own elm trees will reach the sky and cover your yard with soothing shade.


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