Ulmus alata

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: winged elm 
Type: Tree
Family: Ulmaceae
Native Range: Eastern and central North America
Zone: 6 to 9
Height: 30.00 to 50.00 feet
Spread: 25.00 to 40.00 feet
Bloom Time: March to April
Bloom Description: Reddish green
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Shade Tree, Street Tree
Flower: Insignificant
Tolerate: Air Pollution


Grow in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerant of light shade. Prefers rich, moist loams. Adapts to both moist and dry sites. Generally tolerant of urban conditions. Regular pruning of young trees is often required in order to eliminate multiple trunks. May not be reliably winter hardy throughout the St. Louis area.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Ulmus alata, commonly called winged elm, is a small to medium-sized deciduous tree that typically grows to 30-50’ tall with an open-rounded crown. It is native from Virginia to southern Indiana and Missouri south to Florida and Texas. In Missouri, it is typically found in the Ozark region in dry upland areas (rocky woods and glade borders) and in moist low areas (valleys, ravine bottoms and along streams) (Steyermark). Insignificant, small, brownish-green flowers appear in clusters in late winter to early spring before the foliage emerges. Flowers give way to single-seeded, wafer-like, elliptical samaras (each tiny seed is surrounded by a flattened circular papery wing). Seeds mature in April-May as the leaves reach full size. Ovate to elliptic, rough-textured dark green leaves (to 2.5” long) have doubly toothed margins and asymetrical bases. Leaves typically turn an undistinguished dull yellowish green in fall. Branchlets have two wide corky wings (alata is from Latin meaning winged), hence the common name. Other common names include small leaved elm, cork elm and wahoo.

Genus name comes from the Latin name.

Specific epithet means winged.


Dutch elm disease, a fatal fungal disease spread by airborne bark beetles, attacks the water-conducting tissue of the tree, resulting in wilting, defoliation and death. Powdery mildew can be a significant problem in some areas, with foliage sometimes acquiring a noticeable white tint by late summer. Phloem necrosis is a disease caused by a phytoplasma that attacks the food-conducting tissue of the tree, usually resulting in a loosening of the bark, wilting, defoliation and death. Wetwood is a bacterial disease that results in wilting and dieback. Various wilts, rots, cankers and leaf spots may also occur. Insect visitors include borers, leaf miner, beetles, mealy bugs, caterpillars and scale.


In the wild, this elm is a small and slender component of the understory with no particularly outstanding ornamental features. It is uncommonly found in commerce. It could be used as a landscape tree, shade tree or street tree, but has disease susceptibility that may make planting it today a questionable proposition.