Leaf of the Day: Why Winged, Elm?

I picked this up on Sunday from a little tree which grows by a nearby lake. It’s the twig from a winged elm tree, Ulmus alata. I have walked by this tree many times but only now, without its leaves can you see its true character. The winged branches are really strange and it seems that it grows wings on its wings and they contort and twist in fantastic way. A fairytale tree from the dark side. It looks as though it should be prickly but isn’t. What I cannot find out is the answer to my question .. why? Why does it have these strange growths and what is their function?

The structure of the branches is really fabulous and if I were a flower arranger I would have to have some of them to hand. The trunk of the tree is equally knobbly and interesting.

There are a few buds beginning to form and one or two leaves venturing out. It is also known as the Cork elm and the Wahoo, which is the Creek Indian name for this little tree. It has a fibrous inner bark which was once made into rope for the binding covers of cotton bales.
I will be looking forward to these seeds….

Lovely photo from Clinton Nature Centre here

I went down to Gardens this morning and just walked and walked in the beautiful sunshine and wandered in and out of the citrus grove where the heavenly smell of lemon blossom lay heavy on the air, a nostalgic reminder of the orange groves of Andalucia. So many dainty things are in blossom just now, spring is such a pretty time isn’t it?
Then it was nice just to sit and draw … more framing and writing tomorrow.


Winged Elm twig

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  1. Going out on a limb here by revealing the depths of my ignorance, but does it have the sort of seeds that maples have? They’re sort of winged–

    Lovely drawing.

  2. SG.. thank you so much.. the drawing is much bigger and doesn’t look much here as it loses detail ..but was fun to do.
    Manic G.. I am not sure… my ignorance is equally profound. The photo seems to indicate not, I will look into it.. I do know slippery elm have round winged seeds…

  3. It’s disconcerting to come across a plant or a tree that one doesn’t like and this tree (from the photos) looks strangely repelling. (I haven’t met one in person.)

    Even the drawing makes the twig look like a really horrible creature.


  4. Mary.. you are right ..it looks like a strange twiggy centipede of some description.. excellent!

  5. Thank you, thank you, thank you! If it wasn't for finding this post after a long trail through google images, I wouldn't know that I had one of these trees! I thought I had an elm that was infected with something (other than elm leaf beatle that is!).

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