Winged Elm

Also known as cork elm, the common and Latin species names refers to the distinctive broad, corky wings present on twigs. Its wood is moderately strong and used for crates, boxes and tool handles. Browse is good for deer.

Ulmus alata, Winged elm, also called corked elm or Wahoo elm, is a small- to medium-sized deciduous tree native to the southern and south-central woodlands of the United States. It grows from 40' to 60' tall and forms a vase-like shape, with lateral branches and a rounded, open crown. It is the least shade-tolerant of the North American elms. Its growth rate is often very slow, the trunk increasing in diameter by less than 0.2 inches annually. The tallest known stands at 131 feet in the Congaree National Park in South Carolina.

The Winged elm is a common street and shade tree but is occasionally considered a nuisance as it readily invades old fields, forest clearings, and rangelands, proving particularly difficult to eradicate with herbicides.

It can be most easily recognized and distinguished from other elms by the very broad, thin pair of corky wing-like growths that form along the branchlets after a couple of years. They are often irregular and may appear as warty growths or knots on one or both sides of the twigs.

The leaves are small and oval to narrowly elliptical, from 1" to 3½" long. Leaf margins are doubly serrate. They are dark green with a smooth upper surface and paler, hairy undersides. They turn bright yellow in the fall.

The wind-pollinated flowers have a brownish to dull reddish tinge and are borne on long pedicels in March and April before the leaves appear. The fruit is a flat, hairy, reddish-orange samara, about 1/3” long, surrounded by a narrow wing. It usually disperses by the end of April.

The bark is a brownish-gray color, often with a greenish cast. It has tight vertical plates, curvy furrows, and flat ridges. The bark of a young tree often has amazing corky wings and warts. The bark of a mature tree is quite different, with flat plates separated by shallow fissures.

The wood is very flexible and springy but is also hard and resists splitting. It is categorized as a rock elm or hard elm and is used in flooring, boxes, crates, and furniture. The flexibility of the wood is particularly useful for rocking chairs or curved pieces. Winged elm is the wood of choice for high quality hockey sticks, due to its resistance to splitting. The fibrous inner bark is used to make baling twine.
Winged Elm

Winged Elm Leaves

Winged Elm Flowers
The twigs and leaves of the Winged elm provide a nutritious browse for white-tailed deer, especially in the spring, when the vegetation is tender and most easily digested. The seeds are eaten by rodents, small mammals, and numerous birds.

Winged Elm Flower Winged Elm


1. "Winged Elm." Winged Elm. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2012. University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Retrieved from:

2. “Ulmus Alata." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 09 Aug. 2012. Web. 19 Sept. 2012. Retrieved from:

3. Murphy, Richard. Winged Elm Ulmus alata 2009-05-10 (2009) Digital Image. Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Web. 19 Sept. 2012. Retrieved from:

4. Cook, Will. Winged Elm Flowers (2005) Digital Image. Duke University. Web. 20 Sept. 2012. Retrieved from:

5. Cook, Will. Winged Elm Stalk (2006) Digital Image. Duke University. Web. 20 Sept. 2012. Retrieved from:

6. Cook, Will. Winged Elm Bark (2003) Digital Image. Duke University. Web. 20 Sept. 2012. Retrieved from:

7. Winged Elm Leaf Top & Bottom (N.d) Digital Image. MTSU Center for Environmental Education. Web 20 Sept. 2012. Retrieved from: