Florida Forestry Information
Ulmaceae
The Elm Family
 
The elm family consists of about 15 genera which include 150 or more species of plants that are widely distributed through temperate and tropical forests of the world.  3 species of 2 genera are introduced below. 
 
 Click on the links below for introductions to some of the trees of this family:
 
sugarberry
winged elm
American elm
 
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Celtis laevigata 
sugarberry 
 
sugarberry, photo by Chris DemersHabit 

The sugarberry is a medium-sized tree, 60-80 feet in height, 2-3 feet in diameter.  It has a straight, short bole and an open crown of slender, spreading branches, and a spreading root system. 

Leaves 

Leaves are simple, alternate, and deciduous.  The leaves are 2.5-5 inches long, 1-3 inches wide, oval to elliptical-shaped, tapering to an acute apex.  Leaf bases are wedge-shaped or asymmetrically rounded.  Leaf margins are entire or with a few teeth near the leaf apex.  Leaf surfaces are light green, smooth, or occasionally roughened above, paler and smooth below.  Petioles are slender and smooth, about 1/3 inch long. 
 
Flowers 
 
The flowers of this tree are perfect and imperfect, and without petals. 
 
Fruit 
 
Fruit is an orange to yellowish drupe, about 1/4 inch long, with a thick skin and thin layer of flesh, containing a wrinkled, bony pit.  Drupes occur on short stalks, 1/4 to 1/2 long. 
 
Twigs 

The twigs are slender, zigzagging, greenish brown to light reddish brown.  The pith is commonly chambered at the nodes, homogenous between the nodes. 
 
Bark 

The bark is gray-brown to silvery gray, featured with many characteristic corky warts and ridges, particularly on the lower portions of the bole, bark is scaly on old trees. 
 
Habitat 

The sugarberry grows on stream banks, river bottoms, and moist alluvial flats of clay and silt loam.  It usually occurs as an occasional tree in association with may species, most commonly with sweetgum, pecan hickory, green ash, elms, overcup oak, water oak, and honeylocust.  It is found in the southeastern U.S. from coastal Virginia to eastern Texas, including Florida and the Keys. 
 
Use 

The wood of this tree is used for furniture and crating. 
 

Click on the link below to see more information on and/or images of this tree (use the "Back" function to return here):
 
Query the USDA Plant Database
 
 
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Ulmus alata 
winged elm 
 
Habit 

The winged elm is a tree, 40-50 feet in height, 1-3 feet in diameter.  It has a short bole terminating into several ascending limbs with laterally spreading branchlets, forming an oblong, nearly spherical crown. 
 
Leaves 

Leaves are simple, alternate, and deciduous.  The leaves are 1.5-3.5 inches long, 1-2 inches wide, oval to elliptical-shaped, tapering to an acute apex.  Leaf bases are unequally rounded or heart-shaped.  Leaf margins are coarsely doubly serrate.  Leaf surfaces are dark green and smooth above, paler and pubescent below.  Petioles are short and stout, about 1/3 inch long. 
 
Flowers 
 
The flowers of this tree are perfect and without petals. 
 
Fruit 
 
Fruit is an orange-red samara, consisting of a single, flattened seed surrounded by a narrow wing, oval to oblong, about 1/3 inch long.   
 
Twigs 

The twigs are slender, grayish-brown to reddish-brown, and glabrous or pubescent.  They are usually furnished with 2 corky wings or ridges, which appear during either the first or second year. 
 
Bark 

The bark is light brownish-gray, divided into flat, superficially scaly ridges by narrow, shallow fissures. 
 
Habitat 

The winged elm is common throughout much of the south.  It grows well on dry, gravely soils at low elevations.  It is less common near streams and on alluvial flats or in swamps.  It is found from southeastern Virginia west through the lower Ohio River Valley and southern Missouri to north-central Oklahoma; south to central Florida and eastern Texas. 
 
Use 

Due to its rapid growth, pleasing habit, and relative freedom from disease or insect pests, it is a favorite ornamental and street tree in many southern communities.  The inner bark is fibrous and was used in the past for baling twine. 
 

Click on the link below to see more information on and/or images of this tree (use the "Back" function to return here):
 
Query the USDA Plant Database
 
 
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Ulmus americana 
American elm 
 
Habit 

The American elm is a moderately large tree, 80-120 feet in height, 2-5 feet in diameter.  It usually has a heavily buttressed bole that divides several feet above the ground into a number of gracefully arching limbs, forming an attractive, vase-like or spreading crown of pleasing symmetry and beauty. 
 
Leaves 

Leaves are simple, alternate, and deciduous.  The leaves are 4-6 inches long, 2-3 inches wide, oval to elliptical-shaped, tapering to an acute apex.  Leaf bases are unequally rounded.  Leaf margins are coarsely doubly serrate.  Leaf surfaces are dark green and smooth above, paler and pubescent or rarely glabrous below.  Petioles are short and stout, about 1/4 inch long. 
 
Flowers 
 
The flowers of this tree are perfect and without petals, in clusters on long stalks. 
 
Fruit 
 
Fruit is a green, sometimes orange-red samara, consisting of a single, flattened seed surrounded by a narrow wing, oval to oblong, about 1/2 inch long.   
 
Twigs 

The twigs are slender, reddish-brown to dark brown, and glabrous or sparsely pubescent. 
 
Bark 

The bark is ashy gray, divided into broad, flat-topped ridges by deep, elliptical to diamond-shaped fissures. 
 
Habitat 

The American elm is common on bottomlands, alluvial flats, margins of stream, ponds, and lakes, and on moist fertile slopes and uplands in association with other hardwoods.  It is found from Newfoundland west through southern Canada to Saskatchewan and the Rocky Mountains, south to central Florida and eastern Texas. 
 
Use 

The American elm is a favorite and highly prized ornamental street and shade tree in many U.S. cities.  The wood is very durable and is suited for use in the manufacture of kitchenette furniture, flooring, baskets, and woodenware.  This species is threatened by Dutch elm disease. 
 

Click on the link below to see more information on and/or images of this tree (use the "Back" function to return here):
  
Query the USDA Plant Database
 
 
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