American Elm (Ulmus americana)

American Elm (Ulmus americana)

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Common Name(s): American Elm, Soft Elm, Water Elm

Scientific Name: Ulmus americana

Distribution: Eastern to Midwest United States

Tree Size: 100 ft (30 m) tall, 3 ft (1 m) trunk diameter

Average Dried Weight: 35 lbs/ft3 (560 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .47, .56

Janka Hardness: 830 lbf (3,690 N)

Modulus of Rupture: 11,800 lbf/in2 (81.4 MPa)

Elastic Modulus: 1,340,000 lbf/in2 (9.24 GPa)

Crushing Strength: 5,520 lbf/in2 (38.1 MPa)

Shrinkage: Radial: 4.2%, Tangential: 9.5%, Volumetric: 14.6%, T/R Ratio: 2.3

Color/Appearance: Heartwood is a light to medium brown, sometimes with a hint of red. Sapwood is a pale white or cream color.

Grain/Texture: Has a medium texture and moderate-sized pores. Grain is sometimes straight, but commonly interlocked.

Endgrain: Ring-porous; large to very large earlywood pores in a continuous row one or two pores wide, small latewood pores in wavy bands; tyloses occasionally present in earlywood; growth rings distinct; parenchyma vasicentric and confluent; medium rays, spacing normal.

Rot Resistance: Rated as moderately durable to non-durable in regard to heartwood decay, but is susceptible to insect attack,  and living trees are very commonly destroyed by Dutch elm disease.

Workability: Can be a challenge to work because of interlocked grain, especially on quartersawn surfaces. Planing can cause tearout and/or fuzzy surfaces. Glues, stains, and finishes well. Responds well to steam bending.

Odor: Elm usually has a strong, unpleasant smell when green; though once dried has very little odor.

Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Elm  in the Ulmus genus has been reported as a sensitizer. Usually most common reactions simply include eye and skin irritation. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability: Should be moderately priced, though availability from mature trees has been greatly diminished by Dutch elm disease.

Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Boxes, baskets, furniture, hockey sticks, veneer, wood pulp, and papermaking.

Comments: Elm trees are commonly infected with Dutch elm disease, a fungal disease spread by elm bark beetles. D.E.D. has wiped out millions of Elm trees worldwide.

Related Species:

Scans/Pictures: Shown below is a piece of lumber from a small tree that was killed by Dutch elm disease. Being so young, there was very little heartwood formed yet, (the darker brown wood on the right half), with the majority of the wood being sapwood (light area on the left half of the scans).

American Elm (Ulmus americana)

American Elm (sanded)

American Elm (sealed)

American Elm (sealed)

American Elm (endgrain)

American Elm (endgrain)

American Elm (endgrain 10x)

American Elm (endgrain 10x)