Help identifying native elm

amkhalid

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Hi everyone,

Collected this elm in the Toronto area yesterday... based on info gathered from the intertubes I think it is an American Elm Ulmus americana... I initially thought it was a Slippery Elm Ulmus rubra but apparently the young twigs on these are fuzzy as opposed to smooth on American Elm. Heartwood (red in U. rubra) and bark also distinguishes the two but I am not confident in making the call. Heartwood seems reddish in this one to my eyes.

I kind of hope its a Slippery because they are a bit more resistant to DED...

Or maybe it is something totally different... these are the only two elms in Southern Ontario I am familiar with...

Any opinions? Hopefully the provided images are sufficient to get a confident answer.

Cheers

Mature Bark

mature-bark.jpg

Immature Bark

immature-bark.jpg

Buds

Buds.jpg

Young shoots and twigs

twigs-and-shoots.jpg

Wood

wood.jpg
 
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amkhalid

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no opinions from aspiring taxonomists? :)
 

snobird

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Hi
I looked in my book Trees in Canada but can only quote the following quick recognition tips:
White/American Elm - no more than two or three forked veins per leaf. Buds flattened , pressed against the twig. Bark shows alternating dark and light layers. Fruits oval with the wing deeply notched and the margin hairy.
Rock Elm-Prominenet corky ridges on branchlets. Leaves shiny dark green, teeth incurved, veins rarely fork. Buds plumb and sharp-pointed, dark brown and somewhat hairy, diverging from twig.
Slippery Elm - leaves very rough, widest at middle with several forked veins. Buds blunt, hairy and dark brown. Bark layers uniformly brown.
 

amkhalid

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Thanks Snobird... sounds more and more like american elm. Buds are flat and pressed against the twig... definitely not hairy.

Unfortunately definitely not a rock elm... they have wonderful cork bark.

When the leaves mature I will use the info provided on venation to get the final verdict.

Cheers
 

rockm

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rockm

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Whatever it is...

Don't worry about Dutch Elm Disease. Bonsai elms are pretty much protected from the disease, as they are far below the height at which the beetles that spread the disease travel. Additionally, most bonsaiable elms (american, siberian, whatever) are too small in diameter and stature to be attacked.

DED is not a factor in elm bonsai. Worry more about black spot fungus and winter twig dieback...
 

amkhalid

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Thanks rockm... I forgot that siberian elms are invasive... hadn't considered it.

It would be great if it is a siberian because of the small leaf size... once the leaves have hardened off I should be able to make the call... the bark doesn't look too much like siberian bark pics I've seen online, but its hard to tell with a small tree.

cheers
 

bonsainotwar

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Siberians are considered weed trees,and an invasive species here in Albuquerque.

We call the the tree parents of this menace, Chinese Elm, (Ulmus parvafolia), but in actuality they are Siberian Elms, (Ulmus pumila). I have heard many stories of how all these elm came to be in Albuquerque, including that Mayor Tingley was responsible, but all I could find was that Tingley planted elms in the University area in the 1930s. Maybe that is all it took, because I have never encountered a plant so prolific. If you don't have them in your neighborhood, give it time. In years to come you will be able to join in this celebration.

Why would such a useless plant exist? Surely it is not just to give us something to write and bitch about. At least the drifts and piles of snow we had in the city a few years back blanketed my herbs and provided us a great storage for beers just steps outside the door! (We planted the bottles in the drifts and saved space in the fridge. How convenient!) However, these drifts of another sort seem useless. About the trees themselves I have heard said, "at least they are something green," and, "at least they give us shade," but so do other trees that don't give us this plague of seeds, drippy sap on our cars and the dreaded elm beetles. The majority of elms in our fair city are in a constant state of near death. We had two elm trees removed from our yard years ago, and they were alive, barely, but hollow. They can remain alive and are hollow. What strangeness is this?

The Siberian Elm, not to be confused with its smaller, benign cousin, the Chinese Elm (Ulmus parvifolia) survives both extreme drought and extreme cold. It’s so tough that if you cut it down it sprouts from the roots like heads on the monstrous Hydra of Greek myth, and even small seedlings cut your hands when you try to pull them. It is a greedy, thirsty tree, its roots working their way into septic tanks and wells, and it easily overwhelms native and garden plants. Its branches are brittle and easily broken by wind and winter storms, endangering buildings, cars and humans. The deadfall is highly flammable.

What’s more, the Siberian Elm reproduces prodigiously. Its seed pods, white and coin-like, are borne by wind and tires and feet and are capable of sprouting between patio bricks and chinks in foundations; they are a nuisance in themselves, clogging drains and forming dunes against doors and windows. This year they’ve sprouted in dense colonies, especially on disturbed ground near roadways and construction sites, but individuals sprout wherever the wind blows. The seedlings are sneaks, tending to hide within other plants and grow undetected for a month or two until they’re five feet tall and practically indestructible.

Elms are both male and female; unlike the one-seeded juniper, they all produce pollen. While many locals blame junipers for their allergies, the Siberian Elm is the greater culprit; nearly everyone is allergic to the pollen.

There’s no easy way to get rid of these trees; rumor has it that they can survive a nuclear blast. You can carefully burn the seeds. You have to poison rampant seedlings. If you cut down a large tree (that is, before it falls—the species is notoriously short-lived) you must drill holes in the stump, fill them with appropriate chemicals and monitor them vigilantly. The most effective ways to, uh, neutralize a Siberian Elm are girdling—removing a section of bark in a complete circle around the trunk; and frilling—axing downward, making shallow cuts to just below the bark, and applying a chemical labeled “frill application.” Frilling takes advantage of the tree’s circulatory system (phloem) to send the chemical to the roots. You’ll still have to cut the tree down before it falls on someone, but at least you won’t have to worry about regrowth.

Resistant to Dutch Elm Disease which de-treed Main Streets all over America, the Siberian Elm was imported from, yep, Siberia, as a replacement. It was brought to Albuquerque in the 1860s by Mayor Clyde Tingley to create an “oasis in the high desert.” A hundred years later, the tree had earned the nickname “Tingley’s Folly,” the seed pods “Tingley’s Snow.” Now the tree is a serious federal, state, county and community problem, and control measures are urgently needed. It’s been illegal to plant Siberian Elms in Albuquerque since the city’s pollen ordinance of 1996. Tijeras has organized battalions of volunteers to fight the invasion. New Mexico is addressing the infestations on federal, tribal and state holdings. You can contact local agricultural extension services, the state and the USDA for information. A petition to the County Commission to designate our area “a noxious weed control district” is the logical first step in getting assistance.

You might think that there would be an overabundance of yamadori elm around here.That's what I used to think.I have dug up some spectacular specimens,one of which was about thirty years old, and very bushy.it made a killer kabudachi style.Each Siberian Elm that I have dug up,follows the same pattern.It grows great in a container for two years,and being an elm,by the third year it is pretty well styled.The third year in a container,the branches start to die.And die and die,and by late spring,or early summer about 40 % of the tree is dead. After having the same exact thing happen with four different trees,I vowed never to get another.

Last year,I bought an American Elm seedling from someone online.It doesn't grow as fast,but maybe it won't die on me.
 

rockm

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Siberian elm

is notorious for dropping limbs. They tend to grow extremely fast in landscaping and then, once established, start dropping limbs, dying back and being overall pain in the rear ends.

I have not tried to keep them as bonsai, but suspect that dieback can be controlled with targeted, timed pruning. There was an article in BCI or American Bonsai Society magazine years ago about a huge (4', 9 inch nebari) collected siberian elm bonsai. I'll see if I can't find it. There were some particulars about the species in it.
 

amkhalid

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My friend has a siberian elm from an old hedge with a beautiful trunk... he also has the dieback problem and cannot make a decent bonsai from the material.

Fortunately, after closer inspection of the bark and leave on his tree, I am certain that mine is not a siberian elm. I guess this is a good think because of the dieback

Still confident it is american or slippery... with the former being more likely
 

rockm

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Don't think this is American Elm

The leaves in the photo appear to narrow without the tell-tale marked asymmetrical sides that American Elm has.

Bark is never a reliable indicator of elm species. The bark here could be pretty much any elm species. The bark here is a dead ringer for my cedar elms...but it ain't cedar elm, as that species is native to the S.E. US and would die pretty quickly that far north--as most American elm cultivars would.

I would suggest applying Occams' Razor in determining what species this is--in other words, the simplest answer might be the most accurate. Since you are at the edge of American Elm's range, American elm isn't reliably hardy that far north, the odds of this being American Elm aren't as great as they are for it being something else. That something else would most likely be a hardier elm species indigenous to your area. Siberian Elm is invasive and extremely winter hardy. It is common in your area. Odds are that's what this is.

Determining a species is inexact (and sometimes beside the point-if this IS an American elm you are likely to have extreme dieback problems as you cultivate it as bonsai in a colder than optimal environment for the species.) Sometimes it requires alot of deductive reasoning to come to a conclusion and alot of the time, you never really know.
 

amkhalid

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Hi Rockm... good point about the bark... I definitely can't use this as a reliable indicator.

I think you might be underestimating the hardiness of american elms... they used to grow here in abundance before the onset of DED. I recently took a trip to winnipeg, manitoba and they still grace the streets there. Winnipeg can be considered a 'frontline' in the battle against DED.

You might not believe me, since winnipeg is USDA zone 3b, and most sources say american elms are hardy to zone 5. Trust me, they are hardier than that. Winnipeg is a cold, windy, and dreary place. I am almost in zone 6.

Anyways, the topic here is identifying this elm. The leaves in the pic I posted aren't very useful for identification purposes since they weren't even close to hardening off. They still haven't, but they are closer. As shown in the pic below taken today, they do have an asymmetric base. This doesn't seem to be diagnostic however, since most (all?) elms have an asymmetric base:

my elm:
leaf.jpg
(I am at war with a fungus it brought with it from the field, visible in this pic)


SIberian elm
and another

American elm


Chinese elm


Slippery elm

cedar elm

I agree that the rule of parsimony is often the best way to go, but I still don't think this is a siberian elm. I could be wrong! But I'm still not convinced. Might even be some hybrid, making a conclusive identification impossible...

Geeze we are starting to sound like those grumpy old taxonomists who bicker back and forth in the literature about whether so-and-so should be treated as a subspecies or as a species based on blah blah blah... nevertheless I am learning alot about elms from this!

I will post a pic of the leaves/branchlets when they have really hardened off... they are taking awhile since I basically cut off all the roots when I collected it.

Cheers
 
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DaveV

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International Bonsai 1999/No. 4 has an artical about training Siberian Elm as bonsai. As I recall, the author, David J. Rowe, did not mention anything about dieback. I asked Harry Harington (Bonsai4me.com) about dieback with his Siberian elm bonsai and he said that he has not had that problem.

All I can say is give it a try.
 

Melospiza

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Agree with American Elm. Slippery elm leaves feel like sandpaper, there is no mistaking it.
 

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