American elm has the largest range of any of the six elm species growing in North America, covering the whole of the eastern parts of the continent west to the Rocky Mountains, but omitting the mountainous areas, high plateaus and the coldest conifer zone. It thrives best in moist valleys and flood meadows, but is quite happy when planted on drier soils.
Resembling the native European elm (U. laevis) in appearance, the American can grow to over 30 metres in the wild. Its characteristic broad, funnel-shaped crown creates a pleasant, cool shade. The oval, smooth leaves turn early in autumn to a golden yellow. The fruit is again similar to that of the native European elm, an almost circular samara with the nutlet surrounded by a broad wing, ripening in mid-summer.
The American elm is an extremely popular park tree in its native range, both fast-growing and attractive in shape. It has long been grown in Finland but remains rare. It is one of the most successful of the species in the Mustila Ulsike project.