Elm - ulmus

Elm is a very ancient tree dating back to the Miocene period, 40 million years ago. It originated in central Asia. During the 18th and 19th centuries elms were introduced around the world. Elm belongs to the Ulmaceae family.

Elm reached the height of popularity in the early 19th century. The environmental devastation caused by two world wars and recurring and more and more virulent strains of Dutch elm disease caused elm populations to diminish. Things are now slowly changing since the European Union intervened in 1997 by encouraging the propagation of new virus-resistant clones or cultivars of elm.

Elm is valued for its interlocking grain and its resistance to splitting. Elm also has an ability to avoid rotting when subjected to water; although elm has a poor resistance to decay from ground contact.

Elm trees take a long time to reach maturity but they live for an incredibly long time - up to 300 years. Elm trees could play an important role in combating climate change because they have a cooling effect. One urban elm has the same cooling capacity as five air-conditioner units.

American red elm makes a lovely floor with its swirling grain, small knots and rich red/brown colour.

Broadleaf English elm is sadly very hard to source as a new growth hardwood. It has a distinctive variation of colours within its swirling grain.

Especially for British and Europeans and less so for Americans, the best way to get elm flooring is by looking for reclaimed elm timber.

Broadleaf elm

Antique elm

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