After 15 years, it is amazing that it is possible, but I found another surprise in my woodland recently. While I have found elm (Ulmus sp.) seedlings before, I have never noticed a mature elm in the area. The seedlings were enough to be noticeable but not so many that they were a nuisance so I forgot after a while.
|Pile of elm seeds|
A few weeks ago, I was performing my spring trillium-hunting ritual when I noticed small green seeds among the leaves on the ground. I took a picture of them and send it to Scott Ranger, a very knowledgeable friend in the Georgia Botanical Society. He replied that they were the samaras of winged elm (Ulmus alata). I’ve seen winged elm on several hikes with the Society.
I decided to try to find the tree, which must surely be located on my property. Binoculars in hand, I scanned the treetops for trees that appeared to have something going on, growth-wise, but didn’t find it (I did find a lot of maples in flower).
The next day, I wandered over to my neighbor’s yard to look at something and realized that his driveway was full of elm samaras! Looking up, I found the tree. It was big, and the top branches were still full of green samaras. The tree is right on the property line, growing on the side of a creek that runs through both properties. The samaras were so interesting looking – with fuzzy hairs on the edges and a split tip. The small round seed is in the center.
|Winged elm tree (Ulmus alata)|
|Ulmus alata bark|
|Fall twig of winged elm (not my yard)|
I found a couple of broken twig tips to collect for photos. Just then my neighbor came out. We talked about the tree and the seeds. He said he’d like to grow some to replace some of the many trees that they’d lost recently (to disease, he said).
I told him that I’d pot up for him any seedlings that I might find in the woods this year (I’ll probably give him some other native seedlings too now that I know he’s interested).
Despite the name of this post, this tree is not a problem at all and I’m happy to have discovered it. It is a host plant for the Question Mark butterfly – a butterfly that I found in my yard last year for the first time. Now I know where it came from.
Also, all these samaras are tasty seeds for many birds and small critters. What a great find!