Botany: American elm

Self tutoring about tree identification: the tutor mentions a find.

From afar, I noticed a tree last spring that I couldn’t easily identify. As so often happens, it’s on private property, so I can’t get close to it.

The tree sits in a yard near one of the local high schools. I’ve decided it’s an elm, most likely an American elm.

Back in the Valley, we had elm trees. The ones I remember were all much older (and taller) than this one. Moreover, I didn’t expect an elm out here. Of course, because of the mild climate, a tree identifier in this region should be open to many possibilities….

The tree has pointed, elliptical leaves that hang from long, thin, drooping branches that posture like a fountain. Its bark is light grey, almost oatmeal-coloured, and arranged in flat ridges. Some of the intervening grooves approach diamond shape rather than being straight. They’re not so pronounced as on a black locust.

I’ve never noticed flowers, but American elm flowers might be easy to miss from a distance.

The tree’s trunk might be a foot across. I’ll give enthusiasts an extra hint: it’s near the northern high school.


Brockman, Frank and Rebecca Merrilees. North American Trees: A Guide to Field Identification. Racine: Western Publishing Company, 1968.

Little, Elbert L., Susan Rayfield and Olivia Buehl. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees, western region. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1986.

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

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