Ulmus alata (winged elm)

Winged elm is a small to medium-sized tree of the southern Midwest and the southeastern United States, recognized by the large, corky "wings" that form on its young branches. The wings form on twigs in their second year, and extend about half an inch on either side of the twig.

Like other elm trees, winged elm features saw-toothed leaves with uneven bases (although not quite as obviously uneven as the leaf bases of American elm or slippery elm), and a graceful, vase-like overall shape when seen from a distance. The leaves are rather narrow, and have a very stout midrib.

Winged elm is happiest at the edges of riverine or swampy ecosystems, in wet, but not too wet, locations. In such places it can reach 80 feet or more in height. But like all elms the tree is a prolific seed producer, and the little samaras wind up everywhere—so winged elm is a common pioneer tree in old fields and in human-disturbed locations, where it is usually a small, scraggly, understory tree.


Range of Ulmus alata

Ulmus alata
corky "wings" extend about half an inch on twigs, and are fairly regular (not broken into sections)

Ulmus alata
vase-like shape


Ulmus alata
bark is light brown with shallow, irregular ridges


Ulmus alata
alternating leaves feature pale green undersides and stout midribs

Ulmus alata
wings are sometimes striate with colored zones


Ulmus alata
leaves are saw-toothed, with slightly oblique bases

Kuo, Michael (September, 2020). Ulmus alata (winged elm). Retrieved from the website:

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