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Elm tree

What it is and how it is grown

In the elm genus, 40 species are classified that possess some similar characteristics: in fact they are tall trees, rustic, very long-lived and resistant, deciduous and which are very often adopted in large gardens and parks. In fact, they have a considerable development, so much so that they can even reach a height of 20 meters. They also have a thick globular crown that casts a pleasant shadow all around. The result is therefore majestic and very functional. The elm is a very common species on the European continent and in many countries there are very old and very large monumental specimens. Precisely due to the fact of being a rustic species, the plant does not require great care: for example, it is necessary to water only in the hottest periods of summer and if the soil is dry and arid.

The main features


The elm is a species of Eurasian origin, which is very often found in parks and avenues while it grows spontaneously from the plain to the chestnut area up to 1000 meters above sea level. It constitutes a dominant element in the formation of some types of mixed forests. It also provides heavy, rather valuable timber. Elms generally have a majestic stem with dark bark; the leaves, alternate, petiolate and not symmetrical with respect to the main vein, are deciduous and provided with stipules. They have a doubly serrated edge and appear somewhat hairy. The leaves are oval and change color according to the season; instead the decorative effect of the flowers is not very relevant because they are quite small. They bloom in winter or in early spring. As a rustic species the elm grows well even if left to itself; however, a containment pruning may be required from time to time.

How to cultivate


The elm is planted at the beginning of autumn or at the end of winter; it adapts to any type of terrain, however it needs a sunny position. Consequently, it is good that it can have at least a few hours of direct sun to be able to develop at its best and not stunt its growth. It can be found as a single specimen or in rows. The elm is not afraid of the cold and for this reason it can be planted in the ground even in areas where winters are rather harsh and temperatures often go below zero. It is advisable to plant the tree in fertile, well-drained soil with a high content of organic substances: in this way the specimen develops perfectly and there is no risk that water stagnations cause the roots to rot.

Elm: Parasites and diseases


The elm is a very common species on the Italian territory, however it is very sensitive to elm graphiosis: it is a fungal disease that particularly affects young specimens. The vectors are bark beetles, that is insects that feed on the wood and therefore cause the spread of the fungus from diseased plants to healthy ones. Furthermore, by digging the wood, they help to make the fungus penetrate into the lymphatic flow: if the lymph channels are blocked, the specimen dries up quickly: a couple of seasons are enough for the elm to lose its entire crown or die. To prevent the appearance of this disease, it is good to avoid pruning operations on adult plants, so as to limit the risk that the graphiosis fungus penetrates inside these wounds.

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