I. GENUS ULMUS, LINN.
The genus Ulmus has sixteen known species, distributed in all north temperate countries except western North America. Five species are native to our Eastern States and one to the Southwest; Europe has three, two of which extend to eastern Asia and northern Africa. Southern and central Asia have representatives. Elms are valuable timber trees, and have always been planted for shade and ornament. Many varieties have arisen in cultivation among the European species. So far the American species have, shown few horticultural forms. The elms are distinguished by their simple, unsymmetrical, 2-ranked leaves, and their thin, circular, winged samaras. Their wood is tough, heavy and hard, with interlacing fibres which make it difficult to split.
White Elm, American Elm (Minus Americana, Linn.)— A tall, graceful, wide-spreading tree, 75 to 125 feet high, usually of symmetrical, vase shape, with slender limbs and pendulous twigs. Bark dark or light grey, rough, coarsely ridged; branches grey; twigs reddish brown. Wood reddish brown, with pale sap wood; coarse, hard, heavy, strong, cross grained, difficult to split, durable in water and soil. Buds acute, flattened, smooth; flower buds lateral, large. Leaves alternate, 2 to 6 inches long, obovate, doubly serrate, acuminate, unequal at base; smooth above when mature; ribs parallel. Flowers, March, before leaves, on slender, drooping pedicels in umbel-like clusters, perfect, greenish red, inconspicuous. Fruit, May, smooth, oval with thin ciliated circular wing, notched above to the nutlet. Preferred habitat, rich, moist soil. Distribution, Newfoundland to Florida; west to Rocky Mountains. Uses: Favourite shade and orna mental tree. Wood used for hubs, saddle trees, barrels and kegs, flooring, in boat and shipbuilding, flumes and piles. Indians used bark for canoes and ropes.
Up and down New England the trolley cars ply in a maze of systems that becomes more complex every year. Buzzing like insistent and inquisitive bumblebees, they awaken the sleepiest hamlet, haling its inhabitants to the cities and unloading weary, city-bound mortals in the green country. They stir the
torpid, stagnant pool of existence; they wake the old nomadic cravings of the primitive race. The most indignant farmer or villager, once he gets thoroughly awake, ceases to grumble; for his feet of clay the trolley gives him the wings of a bird.
I am not an idolater, I hope, and I would chiefly scorn to worship the almighty dollar. But the vast extent of picturesque country one can see for this sum by trolley in New England fills me with a surprise akin to awe.
The striking ornament of New England landscapes is the American elm. The countryside abounds with splendid speci mens. They are the pride of cities and villages. Down fine old avenues arched over with their mighty arms the trolley cars take their noisy way. The Westerner,stands astonished at the giant size of these trees, and wonders why he cannot match them at home. It is largely a matter of time. In the early days our ancestors took up the trees from the woods and planted them by their roadsides and about their dwellings. Memories of elms at homes—the beautiful litmus campestris in England and on the Continent—guided their choice. Trees twenty years old were transplanted with safety, for this elm has fibrous roots that keep near the surface of the ground. Then the busy home-makers let the trees alone. They had no time to prune and cultivate. The trees needed no such attention. The roots ranged freely in the virgin soil. The spreading tops were self-pruning—the strong limbs choked the weak ones, keeping an open, symmetrical head. Every year added to the tree's stature. It is a race of giants now, against whom insect hosts have come—the tussock moths, the elm-leaf beetle and the brown tail. No wonder the people have made the fight their own.
The elm is familiar to everybody—its vase-like form is in sight whenever we look out of a window. It grows everywhere east of the Rocky Mountains, and ignorance of it is a mark of indifference or stupidity. No village of any pride but plants it freely as a street tree.