Winged Elm

Facts About The Winged Elm Tree

The Winged elm is a medium sized tree, sometimes planted as a street tree, less so as a specimen tree, though it has some unusual characteristics. It is so named because of the wing-like growths that appear on the smaller branches, giving the tree what some regard as a somewhat spooky appearance during the winter once the leaves have fallen.

The Winged elm is not considered to have much in the way of commercial value, so it is not heavily harvested and no varieties or hybrids have been created. The wood of the Winged elm is however put to good use in making furniture, particularly when curved pieces are required. The wood is quite strong and does not split easily. The wood exhibits interesting patterns, making it useful as flooring. The main reason that there is not more of a commercial market for the Winged elm is probably because there are so many other hardwood species having wood of equal or greater usefulness.

The Winged elm tree has low tolerance for shaded areas. It can grow in partial shade but is at its best in a sunny location. The tree is found in the hardwood forests in the Southeastern United States as well as in southern parts of the American Midwest.

Disbursed Amongst Other Hardwood Species - You won't find entire forests made up entirely of Winged elm trees as the tree seems more to grow in a manner such that it is distributed among other hardwood trees. It is often found in the company of other types of elms, several types of oak trees, and ash. While the seeds of the Winged elm can be carried significant distances by wind and by birds, and germinate quite easily, the tree is not terribly invasive due to the fact it is a light-demanding tree, tolerating shade far less than other elms, and will generally not grow in forests where there is a thick cover or canopy of shade-producing foliage. The Winged elm will however quickly take over an abandoned field or a sunny open space in the woods, creating a nearly impenetrable thicket in just 2 or 3 years when left to its own devices.

Sprouts And Saplings Can Cause Problems - Homeowners, while usually quite fond of the tree, do at times complain about the need to mow down or pull up large numbers of sprouts annually, as seeds are spread from a parent tree, before those sprouts become fast-growing saplings. Farmers are not always in favor of having the Winged elm as a neighbor as grazing is usually not sufficient to keep new sprouts under control. Herbicides are not always a quick answer either unless one is willing to kill every growing plant in sight. The Winged elm is not considered an invasive species, nor is classified as such, but that can sometimes be a matter of opinion.

Growth Habits - The tree is somewhat drought tolerant and is not terribly fussy about soils, although as in a residential environment will usually do best when placed in a loamy soil. While it does not particularly like to get its feet wet, it is known to survive flooding conditions without suffering undue damage.

The Winged elm tree is hardy in USDA Zones 5 through 8, grows to a height of 40 to 50 feet, and with a trunk that will measure between one foot and two feet in diameter. The leaves are fairly small, and the growth pattern of the tree often assumes a pyramidal shape, although in some instances the top canopy will be more rounded. The Winged elm is considered to be an easy maintenance tree, if you disregard the problems that can sometimes be caused by its numerous and fast growing offspring.