The New International Encyclopædia/Elm

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

ELM (AS., OHG. elm, Ger. Ulme, elm, ultimately connected with Lat. ulmus, Ir. leamh, elm), Ulmus. A genus of trees of the natural order Urtieaceæ, natives of temperate climates. The serrated leaves have unequal sides, and the small flowers which grow in clusters appear before the leaves unfold. The fruit is a samara, or compressed one-seeded little nut, winged all around. One of the most important species is the Ulmus campestris, a tree of 60 to 80 feet in height, with ovate-elliptical, doubly serrated leaves, and almost sessile flowers. The tree is found all over Europe; also in the west of Asia and north of Africa, and introduced into America. The wood, which is compact and durable, especially in water, is used for a great variety of purposes by wheelwrights, machine-makers, ship and boat builders, etc. It is also prized by joiners for its fine grain, and the mahogany color which it readily assumes on the application of an acid. It is reckoned superior to the wood of any other species of elm. The bark is used in dyeing and in sugar-refining, and, in times of scarcity, has been used in Norway for grinding into meal and mixing in bread, which has a less disagreeable taste than that made from meal mixed with fir-bark. The inner bark is used medicinally in cutaneous diseases; it is mucilaginous, and has a bitter, astringent taste. The elm balsam (beaume d'orme), which was formerly in great repute, is a brownish substance, which is found in dried galls of the elm-leaves in the south of Europe, Persia, etc. From these galls in an earlier stage flows a clear, viscid, sweetish liquid, called elm water (eau d'orme), which is used for washing wounds, contusions, and sore eyes. The elm is one of the principal timber-trees of the British Isles, most extensively planted, and a chief ornament of English scenery. The cork-barked elm, a variety of Ulmus campestris, is distinguished by the corky wings of the bark of the branches. It is taller than Ulmus campestris, of more spreading habit, with much larger leaves, and is a common European tree. The Dutch cork-barked elm is generally considered a variety of Ulmus campestris. It has a still more corky bark, still larger leaves, is of very quick growth, but its wood is very inferior. The broad leaved or wych elm (Ulmus montana), a tree of very quick growth, is the only species that can with certainty be regarded as indigenous to Scotland. It has rough, broad leaves, a stem less upright than that of the English elm, and large, spreading branches. The wood is used for all the purposes of the English elm. Protuberances of gnarled wood are not infrequently produced, which are finely knotted and richly veined; they are much esteemed for veneering, and are sometimes very valuable. Varieties of this species are known as the giant elm and Chichester elm. The smooth-leaved elm (Ulmus montana) a native of Europe, is distinguished by much smaller leaves and is by some regarded as a variety. A variety called the Huntingdon elm is much esteemed. The Cornish elm (Ulmus stricta), now considered a form of Ulmus campestris, found in the southwest of England, is remarkable for its rigid. erect, and compact branches. Ulmus pedunculata, a Continental species with a large spreading head and smooth bark, is distinguished also by the long stalk of its flowers and its ciliated fruit. The American or white elm (Ulmus Americana), which attains its loftiest stature between latitudes 42° and 46° N., is a magnificent tree, sometimes 120 feet in height. The trunk leaches 60 or 70 feet before it separates into branches, and the widely diffused pendulous branches float gracefully in the air. It is one of the finest street and park trees. In New England it is highly prized for this purpose. There are a number of famous elm-trees, among them the ‘Washington elm,’ at Cambridge, Mass. The timber is used for agricultural implements, wagon-hubs, saddle-trees, and cooperage. The red or slippery elm (Ulmus fulva) is also common in the basin of the Mississippi as far south as latitude 30°, and in western Canada and New England. It attains a height of 50 or 60 feet. The wood is more valuable than that of the white elm, but inferior to the English elm. The leaves and bark yield an abundant mucilage, which is bland and demulcent, and esteemed a valuable remedy in catarrh, dysentery, and other complaints. The wahoo or winged elm (Ulmus alata) is a small tree, found from latitude 37° to Florida, Louisiana, and Arkansas, remarkable for the branches being furnished on two opposite sides with wings of cork. The wood is fine-grained, compact, and heavy. The corky white elm (Ulmus racemosa), a larger species attaining a height of 100 feet and a diameter of 3 feet, ranges from western New England to Minnesota and southward. The wood of this species excels in its strength, toughness, flexibility, and durability. In China is found a species of elm, the leaves of which bear galls used in tanning and dyeing.

The name ‘Spanish elm’ is given in the West Indies to a tree also called Bois-de-Chypre (Cordia gerascanthus), of the natural order Boraginaceæ, the timber of which is valuable; also to Hamelia ventricosa, of the natural order Rubiaceæ, the timber of which is known to cabinetmakers as prince-wood. The water-elm (Phanera aquatica) is a tree 30 to 50 feet high, occurring from North Carolina to Kentucky, Missouri, and southward. The name elm is applied in Australia to two timber-trees, Aphananthe Philippinensis of the order Urticaceæ, and Duboisia myoporoides of the order Solenaceæ. For illustration, see Edelweiss.


NIE 1905 Elm.jpg

AMERICAN ELM (showing variable habit of growth in New England).