Elm: Identify Four Elms by Spring Samaras

These four elms include three native elms, plus one introduced (and uncommon) elm. These elms all flower and fruit in the spring, before leaves arrive. The fruit of elms is a flat, rounded samara, with a central seed surrounded by a thin wing. Here's how to identify American Elm, Slippery Elm, Winged Elm, and Siberian Elm from these samaras.

American Elm (Ulmus americana)

Slippery Elm (U. rubra)

Winged Elm (U. alata)

Siberian Elm (U. pumila)

Samaras have cilia around the edges, but smooth on front and back surfaces Samaras have NO cilia around the edges , just fuzz on front and back surfaces, in the center over the seed Samaras have cilia around the edges AND fuzz on front and back surfaces; often reddish Samaras have NO cilia around the edges, and also NO fuzz on the front or back surfaces
Samaras are elongated (longer than wide) and deeply notched Samaras are round (about as long as wide) and not deeply notched Samara are lanceolate (long and narrow) and have deep "claw-like" notch at the bottom, Samara are round and have very small notch at the bottom,

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Posted on March 04, 2020 02:10 PM by lisa281 lisa281


Thanks for this! Very helpful!

Posted by oceanicwilderness over 3 years ago (Flag)

Wow! What a great guide, @lisa281 . I love the format with photos. How did you get the formatting to look so good? I might want to copy the style and create something similar for sumacs.

Now if I can only retain this exquisitely distilled piece of information while out on the trail getting all distracted. Sigh....

Posted by jsuplick about 3 years ago (Flag)

Awesome, thank you! Very helpful!

Posted by dmwilds about 2 years ago (Flag)

This is great! I was able to make an ID for someone with these pictures and info. Thank you!

Posted by gillydilly over 1 year ago (Flag)

This is very helpful!

Posted by crookedchicken about 2 months ago (Flag)

Very nice illustration of Elm Tree Samara! I have been trying to ID some Elm trees for the last 2 years and have spent countless hours reading Tree Books ,Googling,watching You Tube Videos.These pics were the best description to positively ID these Elm Trees! Thank You

Posted by mzkwr about 1 month ago (Flag)

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