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Home > Resources > North Carolina Trees > Winged Elm

Winged Elm

(Ulmus alata Michx)

  Winged elm, sometimes called cork elm, takes its common name from the corky "wings" often present on its twigs. On vigorously growing trees, these thin wings may be as much as 1/2 inch wide. Winged elm is scattered over the state, except in the mountains. Winged elm usually is found on dry, gravelly uplands but also grows in moist, alluvial soils. Although it grows most rapidly in moist conditions, it is one of the best trees for planting along roadsides in dry, poor locations.

Leaves are 11/2 to 3 1/2 inches long, oblong-oval, pointed, rough-textured and coarsely toothed on the margins. The fruit is about 1/3 inch long, each tipped at the end with two long, curving bristles (awns). The orange-red fruits (samaras) are covered with light colored, hairy fuzz. The bark is light brown, divided into irregular flat ridges and fissures.

This elm is a medium-sized tree of 40 to 50 feet in height and from I to 2 feet in diameter. When open-grown, it has a short bole, with branches arching upward to form an open, rounded crown. Forest-grown trees often are tall and straight.

The heavy wood is hard and strong. It is used in the furniture industry and for crates and boxes.
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