Differences in my elms

Ross

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#1
I have had several elms in the past that I grew for a few years and then sold, and this year I collected 29 more elms (28 of them are leafing out right now). The ones I sold were acquired locally and I assume were originally collected locally. The 29 I collected this year all came from the same property in North Texas, just south of Sherman, close to the Oklahoma border.

I have generally always called these 'Cedar elms' but they are clearly not all the same. I looks to me that there are at least three different types of bark on them, and the leaves are different from tree to tree. Also, some are more prone than others to make wings on the branches, and some seem more prone to scale and insects. I think I can generally split these into three categories, corky bark, flaky bark, and smooth bark. The trees with corky bark seem to generally have longer, more elliptical leaves, and I think they might be Ulmus Alata or Winged Elm. The flaky bark trees seem to have smaller, more rounded leaves, and most of them leafed out the earliest. I think these might be Ulmus Crassifolia or 'Cedar Elm.' I have also only found scale on this type, maybe because they leafed out first. The smooth bark trees seem to have the smaller, less elliptical leaves, but it seems that they are not quite as vigorous and more prone to have their leaves munched on by little insects. The bark on these looks almost like Chinese elm (Ulmus Parvifolia) but the leaves are bigger and they make wings. I don't know what type of elm this smooth bark is. I have examples of each bark type with and without wings, but wings seem more prevalent on the corky bark type, that's part of the reason I think those are Ulmus Alata.

I know that Ulmus Crassifolia will flower and fruit in the late fall, but until then, can anyone help me distinguish between these species based on pics of the bark and leaves, and maybe shed some light on what's up with the smooth bark variety? Thanks!
 

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Poink88

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#3
I noticed the same variations on mine and just accepted it as part of the cross breeding/polination that happens in nature. On the bark, it looks like the first pic is just a young one but the 2nd and 3rd looks really different that I also have.
 

rockm

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#4
This is probably due to localized species variation, age and some cross breeding, like Poink said. Younger Cedar elms don't have the fissued bark. Local microclimate conditions(wet sites, drier sites, etc) can also factor in.

Cedar elm can produce bark variations and I've noticed some variation in leaf shape and size on the trees I've collected and had over the years.

Happens with other species too. For instance, the willow oak (quercus phellos) we have here in Va. is very different from the form the same overall species takes in east Texas where I visit my parents. The willow oak in Texas looks to have crossbred with other white oak species there, as the shape and habits can make it look a lot like live oak.
 

Ross

Shohin
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#5
On the bark, it looks like the first pic is just a young one but the 2nd and 3rd looks really different that I also have.
The smooth bark is definitely different than the flaky and corky. It's lighter in color and will get bark, but almost in little patches. I collected that young one this year only because it looked different than all the other ones growing around it. When I got it home, I realized that it was similar to one I had sold and one I had collected several years earlier. Here's pics of the other two smooth bark trees. I can't get a close up of the bark on one of these because I don't have it anymore, but the bark was pretty smooth and gray. I feel like bugs like these leaves, the buds are smaller, and they don't explode as much in the springtime, they're not as vigorous.
 

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rockm

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#8
"The smooth bark is definitely different than the flaky and corky"

Maybe, maybe not. I've got smooth spots on a tree with craggy bark...I'd bet the smoother barked tree is not all that old. Just because all the other trees around it didn't have it could mean its the youngest...:D

FWIW, I've heard from long-time CE collectors over the years that there are smoother barked individual trees. I don't think that makes them different species. Just an occasional variation.
 

markyscott

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#9
There a few native elm species other than crassifola to consider. Ulmus alata, for instance, grows in that area, forms wings, has smoother bark and less elliptical leaves. Ulmus rubra also grows there. I won't argue that they are not the same species as I'm no expert on native elm. Just pointing out that Texas has at least 4 native elm species and several that can easily be confused with elm.
 

Ross

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#10
Ulmus alata, for instance, grows in that area, forms wings, has smoother bark and less elliptical leaves.
I mentioned Ulmus alata in my first post as a likely candidate, but it was my understanding that Ulmus alata or 'Winged elm' had the rougher bark and more elliptical leaves, also more prone to wings. I dunno, I guess it doesn't really matter too much that I label them. I should probably just call these all North Texas elms and enjoy the subtle differences.
 
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#11
West Michigan...Elms

My elms are West Michigan based. They have a name likely...but I just call them American Elm. It would be nice to know more about the name. The first photo is a close-up of the bark on my parent elm tree...backyard growing. Seeds start on the ground near and around the elm. I periodically harvest seedlings whenever I want to start new trees...they actually grow mighty fast inbetween tall field-grass and suvive the winters just fine outside (all are in the ground during winter). The rest of the photos, numbers 2 through 5, are my pre-bonsai trees from those elm seeds...these have trunk bark developing now at about 4 years growth in the ground after harvesting a twig from the ground. I can see the parent tree characteristics begining to develop, even at a young age.

The last photo shows some of the root structure on one of my 4 year old trees. You can see the rougher bark at the base beginning to move upward while right now the upper bark is a bit smoother. This root photo was taken just after digging them out for moving to my new growing ground at the end of March 2013...last month. Roots are looking very good so far...well, I think so anyway.

What I have seen so far is that if I constantly prune a tree the bark seems to stay smoother longer while if I let the tree grow wildly it seems to rough up quickly.
 

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#12
I think its pretty easy to identify crassifolia due to the rough texture of the top side of the leaf....winged elm...alata lacks that same texture if I am not mistaken. Although I am not a Cedar elm expert, I have seen vast variations in the bark of winged elms. I totally agree that the variation that you have shown is most likely the result of age, and individual characteristics.

John
 
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#13
This topic got me curious about ulmus genealogy. It funny, the more I read, the more confusing it got. This link had some interesting stuff especially way down at the bottom when they get to the American elm. Even though U. americana is generally considered too course for bonsai, I always found hybrids interesting, especially between old world and new species. What I really love about elms is that you can find a volunteer parvifolia hybrid just about anywhere.

http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/fletcher/programs/nursery/metria/metria11/warren/elm.htm

Here is my fingers crossed cutting project from the mortar of a brick wall I watched for a couple years due to the tiny leaves. Hopefully it doesn't go little shop of horrors on me when it gets a taste of miracle grow.

image.jpg
 

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#14
Hopefully it doesn't go little shop of horrors on me when it gets a taste of miracle grow. View attachment 33549
My elms start out a bit smaller in diameter than these you have shown. My experience has been that they grow okay in a pot or box...healthy, but just okay for growth...but the diameter doesn't take on much new growth even after several years in a box. Once planted in the ground though, and then fertilized, the diameter increases significantly and very quickly along with a high volume of roots. When I box-plant the elms they produce good roots but not a many as when planted in the open ground.

What I found in a couple of boxed elm trees, is that I could easily clip and grow in the box (a bit easier than crawling on the ground). The tree remains smaller and develops a great deal of ramification quickly. The smaller tree tends to be more knarly and twisted in appearance. My ground-planted elms seem to be more upright or straighter in appearance. I am now experimenting on a couple of elms by letting them grow in the ground but clipping and pruning them more frequently to see if I achieve a larger sized knarly elm. Here is a snapshot of one of my elm trees grown mostly in a wooden box 12x16x3.5". In the case of this tree, which is still a work-in-progress, the trunk diameter is only 1.5" diameter after about 5-6 years of boxed growth. The bark also remains smoother than others planted in the open ground. This tree and the earlier shown trees I showed are from the same parent elm tree.
 

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Poink88

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#15
Ross,

I am observing my elms (thanks to you) and noticed that the ones with plate bark (#2) (2nd on your original post) grow much slower than the one in the 3rd pic (#3).

#2 seem to give a burst of growth then stop. It goes again eventually but takes a long break. #3 may take a short rest then keeps going. :cool:

#2 seem to have much harder wood as well.

Thought I would share my observation.
 
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#16
Mid-spring I noticed some white and sticky, gooey sacs hanging from an elm tree in my front yard. I think I saw them the year before, but didn't pay them much attention. This year, they were all over the tree and I took notice. I scooped a couple off and opened them up, and it looked like little red balls (larvae?) inside. I'm not sure if it's a type of scale, or gall, or mildew (I doubt it). Either way, I tried to just blast it all off with the hose, but the branches that I missed have been decimated. I was surprised because I've never seen elm branches die off like that, even with other insects, aphids, ants, sharpshooters, scale...nothing so insidious. Last week I was dismayed to find the goop on one of my potted elms in the backyard, and I took pains to remove it, but I have since seen it on the majority of my elms...like 12 out of 16. It's a big pain to stay on top of it, and I'm hesitant to use neem oil or any chemical because I almost lost a tree last summer. I've lost a couple small branches because of it, but (fingers crossed) I'm hoping I have it under control manually at this point, and I'm testing a spray solution on a small tree before I spray it on everything if it works.

What's possibly relevant to this discussion is that both the 'smooth-bark' elms have been unaffected so far, despite being in close proximity to all the others. It kinda looks like it just skipped right over those two, but got the others right around them. This may not matter at all, especially if those two trees are affected eventually, but I thought it was interesting. It also may be a good reason to diversify your collection a bit, to help avoid possibly losing all your trees at once to some species specific parasite or blight. Looks like mine should all be ok, but it was a little nerve-wracking at first.

If anyone knows what this stuff is please let me know. I have attached a couple pics of doomed branches from the tree in front.
 

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#17
trees

Hi Ross

Some very good trees you have. If you are interested in selling any please let me know. Actually I might be visiting Dallas for a couple of days next month. Also if you know any other sources in Dallas area for bonsai material, please let know. Thanks

Faiq
 
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#18
Thanks Faiq,
Feel free to send me a pm when you are headed to Dallas and we'll see what I have. Right now I only have a couple to sell, and they are big and rough, clearly long-term projects. I don't really know anyone else in Dallas with material, but could refer you to a couple people who might.

Ross
 

jkd2572

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#19
I have a large cedar elm that looks like it has bad leaf burn. I have moved it to a shady location and have been treating it with anti fungal spray just in case. Do you guys in Texas gets leaf burn on these cedar elm? Been trying to figure this out all summer. It's a very nice tree. Trying to figure out what is wrong. 1st year with cedar elm and this tree so I did not know what to expect.
 
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#20
I have a large cedar elm that looks like it has bad leaf burn. I have moved it to a shady location and have been treating it with anti fungal spray just in case. Do you guys in Texas gets leaf burn on these cedar elm? Been trying to figure this out all summer. It's a very nice tree. Trying to figure out what is wrong. 1st year with cedar elm and this tree so I did not know what to expect.
Hey Jeremy,
Most of my elm leaves will get a bit ragged by the end of the summer from normal wear and tear, and on each plant there are several leaves that are a bit "burnt" already, but nothing too bad. I usually attribute most of it to wind, heat, watering inconsistencies or some environmental stress, but it could possibly be bacterial I think. I have seen a bunch of "hopper" type insects on my elms, and there are a bunch of sharpshooters again this year that suck juices from the stems and leaves. The sharpshooters are bad because they can spread bacterial agents, and they also excrete an acidic fluid that can burn leaves as well. If you see wet spots on the leaves and you haven't watered recently, check the stems and branches right above the wetness, and you may find a sharpshooter hanging out and circling around the branch to stay away from you. American elms at least are subject to Xylella fastidiosa.

https://www.apsnet.org/edcenter/intropp/lessons/prokaryotes/Pages/BacterialLeafScorch.aspx

If you send me a picture I may be able to tell you if I've seen it before and if it's anything unusual.