Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Winged Elm

The morning light was still gray when I climbed the ladder to try to get a photo of the twig with its corky ridges. Ulmus alata is the botanical name and those corky, ridged wings on young stems are a hallmark of this native of tree. 

Winged Elm is a fast growing deciduous tree endemic to the woodlands of the southeastern and south-central United States. Elms are host plants to over 200 butterfly and moth species (think important bird food) and squirrels and chipmunks eat the nutlets of the samaras.  It has delightful early spring blooms that pop against a blue sky, but, today they're a silhouette promise of what's to come.


Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.


  1. Never heard of that elm before. Alatus must mean something akin to winged, because winged euonymus is Euonymus alatus (aka burning bush).

    1. Indeed it is Kathy~alatus, alata, alatum all mean having wings.

  2. Aha! I looked up more pictures of it online, and realized that I've seen this before and wondered what it was. Thanks for the id!

  3. Birds love to build nest in them too - the wings make it so easy for them. An underused tree for sure with nice yellow fall color.

  4. I think I've seen Winged Elms around here. Thanks for the reminder to go look for them.
    Have a wonderful day!

  5. Neat. I wonder if we have them. I should look. Thanks.~~Dee

  6. What a beautiful tree and so unusual in its silhouette.

  7. Interesting tree. In our area the elms now are either Siberian (these are not planted much , Chinese, or the new hybrid Americans from Morton Arboretum.

  8. Lovely images, Gail. I'm not sure I've ever seen a winged elm before.

  9. Hi Gail, how unusual. Nothing like it in my area. It must be resistant or immune to the terrible elm disease that wiped out millions of elm trees. I will have to research it further. Can't find it in my IL tree book, so it probably doesn't do will here.


"Insects are the little things that run the world." Dr. E O Wilson