September elm (Ulmus serotina), also called red elm, is one of two fall-flowering native elms. The winged fruits are 10 to 13 mm (0.4 to 0.5 in) long light-greenish samaras that turn brown as they ripen in late October or early November. Mature trees reach an average height of 50-60 feet, with a trunk that is two-three feet in diameter. The bark is light brown, slightly tinged with red, and divided by shallow fissures into broad flat ridges. The leaves are oblong, serrate, yellow-green, and two-four inches long.
The seeds of September and other elms are eaten by a variety of birds and small mammals, including squirrels. Twigs and buds are sometimes browsed by deer, and a few game birds eat the buds. The species has been planted as an ornamental in landscape but succumbs to Dutch elm disease. The reddish-brown wood of September elm is hard, close grained, and very strong and can be polished to a high luster. It is one of four species included as "rock elm" in commercial lumbering. Due to its excellent bending qualities, elm wood has been used historically to produce such items as barrels, baskets, chairs, crates, and wheel hubs.
Distribution and Adaptation
September elm grows sporadically from southern Illinois across Kentucky and Tennessee to northern Georgia, northern Alabama, northern Mississippi, Arkansas, and eastern Oklahoma (5). It is most abundant in Arkansas and Tennessee. This medium-sized, rapid-growing tree is found most frequently on moist clay or sandy loam soils, but it also grows on dry, rocky soils of limestone origin. This species may appear more frequently within its range than is currently documented because it may be confused with other elm species. September elm grows at elevations ranging from about 100 m (325 ft.) in the more southerly part of its range to about 460 m (1,500 ft.) in northerly areas. It is never abundant and in early development it is an inconspicuous understory component of hardwood stands. September elm is generally very scattered, and there are few records of stands with this species as a primary component.
Lawson, E.R. (2004). September elm (ulmus serotina Sarg.). Retrieved from http://www.na.fs.fed.us/pubs/silvics_manual/volume_2/silvics_v2.pdf
York, H. (1995). 100 forest trees of Alabama (2nd ed.). Auburn, AL: Alabama Forestry Commission.
|whole tree (or vine) - general|
|whole tree (or vine) - winter|
|bark - unspecified|
|bark - of a large tree|
|leaf - showing orientation on twig|