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Field elm (Ulmus minor)

Field elm ( Ulmus minor )

Nuclear eudicotyledons
Eurosiden I
Order : Rose-like (rosales)
Family : Elm family (Ulmaceae)
Genre : Elms
Scientific name

The elms ( Ulmus ), also called Rüster , Rusten or Effe , are a genus of plants in the elm family (Ulmaceae). In Central Europe there are three types of white elm , field elm and mountain elm . The elm disease threatens to wipe out the Central European elm species. Resistant varieties have been bred in the Netherlands , but the drastic disease-related decline represents an extreme loss in terms of population genetics .


The white elm ( Ulmus laevis ) is the only tree species in Central Europe that can develop buttress roots .


The elm species are deciduous or deciduous trees or shrubs that can reach heights of up to 35 meters. In some sectors you will find the botanical rather rare Korkflügel bark , which is also the spindle tree ( Euonymus occurs). They are never armed with spikes or thorns. The buds can be hairy.


Elms have a taproot system when young . In old age, a sinker root system develops with a tendency towards heart roots (many sinkers from flat to sloping main roots). Even on temporary wet soils, elms form a deep network of roots, which is therefore extremely stable.

Alternate elm leaves arranged in two rows.


The alternate and two lines arranged at the branch leaves are stalked. The asymmetrical leaf blades are broadly obovate or rounded with a single or double serrate edge. They are pinnate and each side nerve ends in a "leaf tooth". They are often three-pointed and are therefore often confused with the hazel . All three Central European elm species are easily recognizable by their leaves, one half of which is always larger and unevenly attached to the base of the petiole. Young elm leaves are edible, for example in salads. There are two membranous stipules present; they fall off relatively early and leave a short scar on both sides of the leaf base.

Illustration by Ulmus wallichiana

Inflorescences and flowers

Appearing mostly in spring (with deciduous species before the leaves) flowers are two membranous bracts small, frets that time, traubigen or zymösen inflorescences arranged and often trained already completed in the early summer. The short peduncle is usually hairy (long-stalked in the white elm). The mostly hermaphrodite flowers have a simple perianth . The four to nine bracts are inconspicuously colored and fused together like a bell. There are as many stamens as there are bracts. The stamens are flat. The usually very short style ends in a two-branched, hairy scar.

Fruits of Ulmus rubra

Fruits, seeds and seedlings

A flat nut fruit is formed, which has a broad, egg-shaped to rounded, membranous wing all around (such fruits are called samara ) and on which the stigma can still be seen. There is no endosperm. The fruits are spread by the wind. The seeds can only germinate for a few days. Sown immediately after ripening, they germinate after two to three weeks. The cotyledons ( cotyledons ) are flat to more or less convex.

The chromosome sets are usually n = 14.

Distribution history

Fossil leaf of Ulmus fischeri , a tertiary elm species

Elms have been found to be fossilized as early as the Tertiary . Ten million years ago, their increased occurrence, for example in sediments in the Lower Rhine Bay , indicates a slow cooling of the previously subtropical climate in the Rhineland. A decline in elms can already be observed in pollen analysis in the Atlantic , whether it is due to disease or anthropogenic is controversial.


Since 1920 the elms have been decimated by the elm disease. The mountain elm and field elm are particularly affected due to their rough bark. The elm splint beetle transmits a fungal disease brought in from East Asia: the fungi proliferate in the sapwood and clog the water channels in the early wood. This stops the flow of water and the tree dies. In the lowlands this leads to a total failure, above 700 meters only in phases.


Many species make good wood. The fruits of many elm species are also suitable for consumption. Medical effects were examined. Some types are used in Chinese medicine.

Wood of elm

The wood of the elm is regionally also called "elm". The elm is a heartwood tree. The ring-pored wood of the mountain elm has three zones that follow the annual rings: a yellowish-white sapwood, a similarly light-colored mature wood and a pale brown to reddish heartwood . It is tough, moderately hard, very shock and pressure resistant and easy to work with, tears easily and must therefore be dried very carefully. The precious wood is to veneers , furniture , gun transactions, parquet and wainscotting processed. In the past, longbows , rims, wheels, spokes and car bodies were also made from elm. The shrinkage of the elm wood is one of the lowest of all types of wood.

Systematics and distribution

Elm species are primarily found in the temperate zones of the northern hemisphere : Eurasia and North America as far as Mexico. In China alone, 21 species occur, 14 of them only there.

The genus name Ulmus was published in 1753 by Carl von Linné in Species Plantarum , Volume 1, Page 225. A synonym for Ulmus L. is Chaetoptelea Liebm.

The genus Ulmus is divided into two sub-genera, each with a few sections and a total of about 40 species. Here is a selection:

  • Subgenus Oreoptelea Planch. :
    • Blepharocarpus Dumort section . :
    • Section Chaetoptelea (Liebm.) CKSchneid. (Syn .: Chaetoptelea Liebm. ):
      • Ulmus alata Michx. : It is widespread at altitudes between 0 and 600 meters in the United States.
      • Ulmus mexicana (Liebm.) Planch. : It occurs in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.
    • Section Trichoptelea C.K. Cutting. :
      • Ulmus crassifolia Nutt. : It occurs in the United States and northern Mexico.
      • Ulmus serotina coffin. : It grows at altitudes between 0 and 400 meters in the USA. It blooms in late summer through autumn.
      • Rock elm ( Ulmus thomasii Sarg .; Syn .: Ulmus racemosa D. Thomas ): It grows at altitudes between 30 and 900 meters in the USA.
  • Subgenus Ulmus :
    • Section Lanceifoliae
    • Section Microptelea (Spach) Benth. & Hook.f.
      • Chinese elm ( Ulmus parvifolia Jacq. , Syn .: Ulmus Sieboldii Daveau ): It is found in India, Japan, China, northern Korea and Vietnam.
    • Section Ulmus :
      • Ulmus androssowii Litv. : It occurs in China and Central Asia.
      • Ulmus davidiana Planch. : Widespread in China, Japan , Korea , Mongolia and Russia ( Siberia ):
        • Ulmus davidiana var. Davidiana
        • Ulmus davidiana var. Japonica (coffin. Ex Rehder) Nakai (Syn .: Ulmus campestris var. Japonica coffin. Ex Rehder , Ulmus japonica (coffin. Ex Rehder) coffin. , Ulmus propinqua Koidz. , Ulmus wilsoniana C.K.Schneid. )
      • Ulmus densa Litv. (Syn .: Ulmus bubyriana Litv. , Nom. Inval.): It occurs in Central Asia.
      • Ulmus elliptica K. Koch
      • Mountain elm ( Ulmus glabra Huds. , Syn .: Ulmus montana With. , Ulmus scabra Mill. , Ulmus sukaczevii Andronov ): It is widespread in Eurasia.
      • Ulmus harbinensis S.Q.Nie & GQHuang : It is endemic to mixed forests in Heilongjiang (Harbin), China .
      • Ulmus laciniata (Trautv.) Mayr (Syn .: Ulmus montana var. Laciniata Trautv. ) It is common in China, Korea, Mongolia and Russia (Siberia).
      • Ulmus macrocarpa Hance : It is common in China, Korea, Mongolia and Russia (Siberia).
      • Field elm ( Ulmus minor Mill. , Syn .: Ulmus campestris auct., Ulmus campestris var. Umbraculifera Trautv. , Ulmus carpinifolia Gled. , Ulmus carpinifolia var. Suberosa (Moench) Rehder , Ulmus carpinifolia var. Umbraculifera (Trautv.) Rehder , Ulmus foliacea Gilib. , nom. inval., Ulmus foliacea var. suberosa (Moench) Rehder , Ulmus foliacea var. umbraculifera (Trautv.) Rehder , Ulmus glabra var. suberosa (Moench) Gürke , Ulmus nitens Moench , Ulmus suberosa Moench )
      • Siberian elm ( Ulmus pumila L. ): It grows at altitudes between 0 and 2200 meters in East Asia.
      • Red elm ( Ulmus rubra Muhl. , Syn .: Ulmus fulva Michx. ): It grows at altitudes between 0 and 600 (rarely up to 900) meters in the USA.
      • Ulmus szechuanica W.P. Fang : Only in Anhui, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, central Sichuan and Zhejiang provinces of China.
      Hybrids in this section Ulmus are:
      • Dutch elm ( Ulmus × hollandica Mill. = Ulmus minor × Ulmus glabra , Syn .: Ulmus glabra var. Vegeta Loudon , Ulmus × hollandica var. Vegeta (Loudon) Rehder , Ulmus × vegeta (Loudon) Ley ). Including:
        • Goldulme ( Ulmus × hollandica 'Wredei')
      • Ulmus × viminalis Lodd. ex Bean
    • Species not classified in any of the sections mentioned:


In ancient times , for example in ancient Greece , the elm was a symbol of death and mourning.


  • Liguo Fu, Yiqun Xin & Alan Whittemore: Ulmaceae in the Flora of China , Volume 5: Ulmus - Online.
  • Rubina Akhter: Ulmaceae in the Flora of Pakistan : Ulmus - Online.
  • Susan L. Sherman-Broyles: Ulmus in the Flora of North America , Volume 5: Online.

Individual evidence

  1. Jochen Kleinschmit and H. Weisgerber (eds.): Can the elm still be saved? . Volume of reports from the 1st Ulm Symposium in Hannoversch Münden on May 21 and 22, 1992, organized by the Forest Plant Breeding Departments of the Lower Saxony and Hessian Forest Research Institute / Hessian Ministry for Regional Development, Housing, Agriculture, Forests and Nature Conservation. Research reports of the Hessian Forest Research Institute, Volume 16. Hessian Forest Research Institute, Hannoversch Münden 1993.
  2. Liguo Fu, Yiqun Xin & Alan Whittemore: Ulmaceae in the Flora of China , Volume 5: Ulmus - Online.
  3. ^ Article "Ulme" at proHolz: Working group of the Austrian wood industry
  4. a b c d e Ulmus in the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), USDA , ARS , National Genetic Resources Program. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland. Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  5. Udo Becker: Lexicon of symbols . Nikol Verlag (licensed by Herder Verlag ), Hamburg 2012, ISBN 978-3-86820-139-0 , p. 316 .

Web links

Commons : Ulmen ( Ulmus )  - album with pictures, videos and audio files