The Caucasian elm is close to the field elm and the hackberry. It is a beautiful tree with a remarkable structure and its harmonious proportions.
The Caucasian elm (Zelkova carpinifolia) belongs to the Ulmaceae family. It is also called the Ironwood.
Botanical description of the Caucasian elm
This tree can reach heights of 30 to 35 m. Its trunk is often short and wide, marked by large grooves. Its branches start near the ground and fan out as they rise, creating a beautiful oval shape with dense foliage. Its smooth and greyish bark flakes off in plates. Its deciduous leaves are alternate, elliptical, from 8 to 10 cm long, crenelate, almost tough and pubescent. In autumn its foliage turns a beautiful orange-yellow colour. Its male and female flowers are found on the same branches at the axil of the leaves. Very small, they open during the spring blossom.
Originally from Asia Minor, this tree was introduced into Europe in 1760 by a botanist who had gone on a mission to Iran, André Michaux. A specimen from this expedition still grows in the Jardin des Plantes in Paris.
Growing conditions of the Caucasian elm
Originally from Asia Minor, the Caucasian elm is very resistant to cold temperatures and can tolerate temperatures down to -30 °C. It likes locations exposed to the wind and, in summer, enjoys full sunshine. It grows well in deep soil with good humidity.
Caucasian elm wood is hard and resists humidity. It is traditionally used to create framework, wheel hubs and pulleys. In the past it was used for Venice’s wooden piles.
Author: Michel Caron
Caucasian elm. © Martin Menu-Flickr nc 20