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Common Name:

American Elm

Scientific Name:

Ulmus americana

Family Name:



American Elm is the classic vase-shaped landscape tree. Revered for its ability to provide catherdral-like aisles it was over-planted setting the stage for disaster when Dutch Elm Disease (DED) felled whole city plantings of this species. Remanants of its former glory can be glimpsed in the few remaining old plantings. New hope has arisen for this species with the release of DED resistant selections by Dr. Denny Townsend. American Elms are still a common sight in some regions of Texas.

Plant Habit or Use:

Medium tree, large tree



Flower Color:

Red-brown, mildly interesting

Blooming Period:

Spring, winter

Fruit Characteristics:

Small winged samaras


60 ft to 80 ft, can rarely reach 120 ft


50 ft to 90 ft, growth form dependent

Earth–Kind® Index:

  • Heat Tolerance: Low Heat Tolerance
  • Water Requirements: High Water Use
  • Soil Requirements: Medium Soil Requirements
  • Pest Tolerance: Medium Pest Resistance
  • Fertility Requirements: Medium Fertility Requirements
Explanation of the Earth–Kind® Index breakdown

Firewise Index

Explanation of the Firewise Index numerical value

USDA Hardiness Zones:

3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Regions that intersect these hardiness zones:
Region A - Panhandle and High Plains Region B - North and Central Texas Region C - Northeast and East Texas Region D - West Texas Region E - Upper Rio Grande Region F - Hill Country and Central Coast Region G - Southeast Texas Region H - Rio Grande Valley
Click image for enlarged map of USDA Hardiness Zones

Additional Comments:

While the vase-shaped form is the classic, American Elms can also have a spreading White Oak growth habit; susceptible to a laundry list of maladies including DED, phloem necrosis (elm yellows), wet wood, bark beetles (vectors of DED), cotton root rot, and elm leaf beetles.
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A Special Note about Cool Season Annuals

Cool season annuals typically are planted in the fall or early winter and flower in early spring under moderate temperatures. This group of plant materials includes: pansies, snapdragons, violas, dianthus, flowering cabbage/kale, etc. Because cool season annuals flower in the spring when conditions are mild, most have limited heat tolerance.

As a result cool season annuals do not receive a high Earth–Kind® index despite their outstanding landscape qualities.