Leaves: Field elms have distinctly smooth and glossy green leaves that are asymmetric at their base. Tapering at the tip, they are also leathery to the touch and have doubly toothed edges.
Buds: Dark and oval-shaped.
Bark: The bark of a field elm is predominantly grey-brown and has crossing lenticels. However, the bark of their twigs tends to be browner and will often form cork-like ridges.
Form: Field elms are known for having a dense crown that is half open and varies in shape between fan-like and broadly oval.
Field elms are hemaphroditic (containing both male and female parts within the same flower). These flowers appear during spring and are pollinated by the wind carrying pollen from other field elms. Once pollinated, the flowers form fruits with a winged morphology (samaras), which themselves can be carried by the wind to new fertile lands.
Field elms are relatively fast-growing, and typically grow to <30 m (98ft).
The field elm helps to provide an essential food source to the caterpillars of the threatened White-Letter Hairstreak Butterfly. Birds also eat their seeds, and the caterpillars of many moth specials favour their leaves as a food source too.
Properties of Field Elm Wood and its Uses
The wood of a field elm tree is particularly hard and durable. With a twisted grain, this wood is relatively resistant to water, which is why it was favoured as a construction material for a range of boats and boat parts. It has also been used in the past to make furniture and floorboards.
Styling of Field Elm/Where to Find Them
Field elms are native to much of Europe and have a long history of being in the UK.
As the field elm is one of the most resistant trees to the devastating Dutch Elm Disease, you will find that that there are still some specimens throughout the UK – particularly in the South and South-East of England.
Where they continue to exist, you can often find them along avenues or in parks, cemeteries, and industrial areas. They are also particularly wind resistant which makes them a popular tree for windbreaking.
Associated Pests and Diseases
Despite developing somewhat of a resistance against the Dutch Elm Disease (DED), field elms are still extremely susceptible to the infamous disease.
The resistance is shown in their saplings which is thought to be because the species is particularly good at reproducing from seed.
Field elms can also be affected by gall-aphids that migrate from fruit cultivated trees.
Field elm trees have had a long-time association with death, and their wood was once used to make coffins.
It is important that any pruning carried out on a field elm is done at specific times of the year to also reduce this risk.
You should never prune a field elm between mid-spring and mid-summer (April to July), as open wounds are likely to attract the Elm Bark Beetle (the pest that causes DED).
Additionally, it is advised not to prune in the autumn as this period is particularly notorious for fungi which can put your tree at more risk.
Ideally, any work should instead be carried out ahead of the growing season in spring.
However, you must still regularly check for any dead or diseased branches. If any are spotted, you should remove these as and when detected.
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