© Copyright: Images: Jouko Lehmuskallio.
All rights reserved.

White Elm

Ulmus laevis

  • Name also: European White Elm
  • Family: Elm Family – Ulmaceae
  • Growing form and height: Tree. 15–20 m (50–70 feet). Sprouting from roots.
  • Flower: Small, regular (actinomorphic), long-stalked. Perianth undifferentiated, brownish, fused, 4–5-lobed. Stamens 4–5, occasionally 8–10. Anthers purple. Pistil formed from two fused carpels. Inflorescence a lax raceme.
  • Leaves: Alternate, short-stalked. Blade 7–15 cm (2.8–6 in.), ovate–oval–obovate, tapering to a long tip, leaf margin usually doubly serrated, occasionally only serrated (f. simplicidens), base very asymmetrical. Glossy and shiny on top, underside soft-haired also between veins. Vein pairs 12–16, veins usually unbranched from tip.
  • Buds: Reddish brown, dark-tipped, tapered, flower buds rounder.
  • Fruit: Long-stalked (7–35 mm (0.28–1.4 in.)), light brown, widely winged (a samaroid), roundish (10–12 × 8–9 mm (0.32–0.36 in.) achene. Wing with ciliate edges, seed slightly closer to base.
  • Habitat: Damp broad-leaved forests, lake shores. Also ornamental. Likes chalky ground.
  • Flowering time: May. Flowers before coming into leaf.
  • Endangerment: Endangered, protected in the whole of Finland.

Two elm species grow ferally in Finland. The rarer of these, white elm, is a demanding plant that grows in lakeside groves, sometimes also on stream banks and in coastal areas.

Elms flower before their leaves appear. The best way to tell them apart from other Finnish leaf trees is the relative asymmetry of its leaves. The flowers are small, bisexual, develop stamens early, and are wind-pollinated from a distance. White elm can also be told apart from wych elm by e.g. its horizontal branching (wych elm branches are ascending oblique) and its wider, domed crown (wych elm’s is more funnel-shaped). White elm buds are narrower than wych elm’s, the inflorescence is sparser with longer stalks, and the fruit is clearly smaller.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

Follow us!


Identify species!

Sivun alkuun / Top of the page