Elms

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Ulmus species; Ulmaceae (elm family)

Shame on me.  As a budding naturalist, I should have taken my tree identification book along and keyed out the species.  But I didn’t.  Quite sure it’s an elm, not sure which one.

In general, elms are medium to tall (a few species get close to 100 feet), vase-shaped in silhouette.  They were a favorite street tree in the US in the early 20th century. Which is a shame, because diseases take hold easily in monoculture plantings (consider the Irish potato famine).  Dutch elm disease killed an estimated 75% of the elms in North America by 1989.  Fortunately, there are disease-resistant cultivars being developed, and the future doesn’t look quite as bleak for the American elm as it does for the American chestnut.

Most elms flower before leafing out.  The flowers themselves are inconspicuous; what you can easily see are the sepals and stamens, but there are no petals. On an otherwise naked tree the effect is lovely, like there’s a faint reddish cloud hovering over.

Four native and four alien species can be found in Maryland.  I’m heading back to the same area in a few days; this time I’ll take the book and figure out which one this is.

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