American Elm (Ulmus americana). Typically given their druthers, Amerian Elm will take the classic vase shape that made it such a popular park tree before Dutch Elm Disease (a beetle-vectored fungus) killed off so many of them. There are still mighty elms to be seen, though. Prospect Park’s most magnificent example, on the Long Meadow, has taken a storm beating in recent years. This one, near the ballfields, has a branch that uncharacteristically swoops downward to camera level. The small seeds are surrounded by hairy “wings” that are deeply notched (hard to see here when they’re so fresh).Not sure which elm species these belong to. There’s a pun in there, as one of my contenders is Wych Elm (U. glabra). (A glance at the leaves might have helped, but these fruit first, leaf second.) Wych is also known as Scotch Elm, and is native to western Eurasia. There are six native North American elms, and all have hairy margined fruit except for Slippery Elm (U. rubra), but we have a good number of cultivated and hybrid elms as well. Anyway, I’m banking on Slippery in this case. If you look closely here, you’ll see that many of the seeds here have been taken out: White-throated Sparrows were on the Midwood path eating them. Some of the bunches of fruits even fell as I stood there, and I thought for a second birds were clipping them off. Didn’t actually see it, but it was suspicious.
Note that the popular street tree Japanese Jelkova, sometimes called Zelkova Elm, is a brother from another genus (Zelkova serrata) and produces very different fruit.
If you enjoy my posts you can get them delivered by white-gloved hand to your virtual in-box, where they will await your leisure to enrapt or enrage you. I may be biased, but I think a little Backyard & Beyond in the morning beats yet another cute-cat-defying-gravity video. Subscribe at the upper right.