Tree Talk: Elm

in #treetalk3 years ago

Hey Steem fam! So a while ago I was given the idea to start a series of posts where we all learn about trees together. In our modern era, we often have all sorts of knowledge that our ancestors did not have - such as about technology - but we've lost knowledge they did have - such as about plants. I mean, at varying points in history depending on where in the world/what people you are talking about, humans could basically survive in the wild: we knew what plants were good to eat, where to find them, which were poisonous, which were good to heal a wound, etc. We could track animals and find water and build shelter and start a fire without matches and fish - and know how to cook that fish (I've never scaled and gutted a fish - perhaps some people have, but nowadays in the west, probably not most). Nowadays, when people get lost in the woods, they die. Search and rescue teams go out to find them, because if they don't in very short order, they will probably be dead. If our survival gear is not bought at REI and packed with us when we entered those woods, most of us haven't the foggiest idea what to do.

Now, I'm no reality TV star who's going to drop into a jungle and survive off the land - nor am I even a tree expert. But I love them, and love learning about them, and am trying to grow them (Emmy update: she suffered mightily from the spider mites, but I think they're gone. However, most of her leaves dropped as well. She has basically one branch that still has green. I am feeding her more often to try and make up for that nutrient loss). So I thought I could share what I know, and learn some more as well. After all, teaching is often the best way to learn. :) So I'm going to start this series of Druidy goodness, and our first tree to learn about will be of the Emmy variety: elms!

Emmy, shortly before the spider mites attacked. Those are ivies beneath her.

Elm Trees Identification

  • their leaves are saw-toothed on the edges (jagged), and are alternating on the branch, like this:
    Emmy my Emmy the ELM TREE hee hee hee.jpg

  • can reach heights of 45-150 feet (~14-46 meters), depending on sub species
    Emmy's real parent tree i think.jpg
    I think this might be Emmy's parent tree

  • American Elms' crowns are often wider than the tree is high (an American Elm is what Emmy is)
    Emmy's real parent tree i think 2.jpg
    Emmy's mom again

  • Seeds are little and rounded:

    English Elm, from

American Elm, from

Elm seeds, from ...a fun quiz, btw. I didn't know them all.

Elm Trees Myths, Legends, and Customs

Elm trees are heavily associated with the dead in many cultures. In the Greek legend of Orpheus, when he returned from Hades, he began to play a love song; when he did that the first elm grove is supposed to have grown.

In Scandinavian and Celtic traditions, elms are associated with elves. The light elves (Germanic), otherwise known as the Seelie (meaning "Blessed Ones," Scottish) were given offerings of milk poured into cup marks made on burial tombs. Eventually it became the custom in England for elm wood to be used for coffins.

When elm leaves fell out of season, it was an omen that disease might come to your cattle (England). Elm was also often used as the maypole at Beltaine. Which makes sense, if you think about it - Beltaine is a fertility festival, and it being the maypole is literally binding a wood associated with death with the ribbons. But also, its association with elves comes into play here, as they were often called upon for assistance with childbirth.

Elm trees have been/are used for various healing remedies and rituals. Slippery elm bark is often used in poultices, for example. Elm is also a tree of purification.

emmy baby.jpg
Emmy as a baby tree - she volunteered in my peppermint pot!

Elm Trees Growth, Habitat, and Disease

  • English elms can grow from suckers via their roots
  • Most ancient elms have been killed from Dutch Elm Disease in Europe and North America, but Siberian elm is resistant to it.
  • Siberian elm is well suited to dry regions such as the Great Plains; English, Chinese, and American elms prefer moist soils.
  • Chinese elms can remain nearly evergreen in warm climates, turning reddish or purpleish in autumn.

Emmy in bud

So there you have it! The elm edition of tree talk. Did you learn something new today? I did, researching this!

I hope you enjoyed this deep dive into elm trees with me. Have a great day and Steem on! <3


National Audubon Society, Field Guide To Trees, Western Region (North America), by Elbert L. Little, Susan Rayfield, and Olivia Buehl

Form & Foliage, Guide To Shrubs & Trees, A Collection Of Garden Favorites, by Susin Leong & Tracy Loughlin

Tree Wisdom, The definitive guidebook to the myth, folklore and healing power of Trees, by Jacqueline Memory Paterson

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Very cool information! Didn't really know all that much about elms... I know there was an elm disease for a while that took out many of the old trees; very sad. I also remember the round seed pods with the little seeds in the center.

I like that you have an elm tree growing as a container plant!


Hi, CC! Good to see you!
Yeah, Dutch Elm Disease is still around unfortunately, but they do have some treatments now I think, so I believe if you catch it in your established trees and call an arborist, they can kill the bugs or the fungus or whatever - I'm not sure exactly what the treatment is.
Yeah, I love Emmy the Elm Tree - and she inspired me to try growing other trees in pots. I had a couple of starts that then fried last year when I had to move them temporarily to a different spot (literally, the front of my apartment instead of the back on the balcony) - they were too little to take the sudden swing in sun levels, I think. But I keep trying. It's a learning process. ;)

Great educational post @phoenixwren

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Thanks very much! :)

Awesome! My parents have a pair of young elm trees in their front yard. It's cool to know a little more about them :)

Yay! Thanks for reading! :)

Very cool post about Elms. I tried slippery elm for the first time this past winter. Super cool herb. It's so neat you have a volunteer elm growing in your life ❤🍉🍪

I love my Emmy. I just hope she is able to recover from the spider mites! <3