Ulmus Americana (white elm, water elm, soft elm)

description: deciduous tree

place of origin: eastern North America

urban habitat: found in compacted soils, vacant lots, fields, waste dumps, along streams, rivers, ponds, roadsides, and railroads.

ecological function: provides heat reduction in paved areas, erosion control on slopes, stabilization around streams and riverbanks, food and habitat for wildlife; tolerant of roadway salt, cold tolerant.

history: Ulmus Americana is a fast-growing, hardy tree that can withstand extremely cold temperatures and is found in the eastern half of the US and Canada. It was exported to the UK in 1752 but rarely prospered there due to insect damage. Until the recent spread of Dutch elm disease, a fungal disease introduced into the US from Europe around 1930, it was an abundant tree in the northeastern US and commonly grew to more than 100 ft. Now, due to the disease, which is spread by elm bark beetles, only small to medium-sized trees survive in the urban environment. Numerous Native American tribes made practical use of the tree. Medicinally, its bark was used to treat cancerous tumors, coughs, eye infections, dysentery, cramps, diarrhea, appendicitis, and to arrest bleeding. Many tribes used the tree as a building material and burned it as fuel. The bark was brewed by the Cheyenne to make a coffee-like beverage. The soft inner bark of its stems can be used to make paper. Its wood has also been used to make boxes, crates, barrels, furniture and caskets.