The elm tree (Ulmus minor Mill., 1768) is a deciduous tree species of the family of the Ulmaceae.
From the systematic point of view it belongs to the Domain Eukaryota, Kingdom Plantae, Subarign Tracheobionta, Superdivisione Spermatophyta, Division Magnoliophyta, Class Magnoliopsida, Subclass Hamamelidae, Order Urticales, Family Ulmaceae and then to the Genus Ulmus and to the Species U. minor.
The terms are synonyms: Ulmus procera Salisb., Ulmus campestris Auct. not L. and Ulmus carpinifolia Suckow.
The term Ulmus is the ancient name with which the plant was called in Latin and is connected with the Sanskrit root to grow. The specific minor epithet is the comparative of párvus: smaller, smaller than other congeners.
Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
The elm tree is a native species of central-southern Europe and the Caucasian region. The area of diffusion is that of continental Europe, Mediterranean Asia and North America. Its natural habitat is that of woods and uncultivated land and it is also found along the bed of streams and streams in an altimetric range between 0 and 1,200 meters. In Italy it is common in every area but the spread of graphiosis, a fungal disease, has greatly reduced its presence.
The Ulmus minor is a tree that can reach 30 meters in height, with a light and elegant foliage and a straight and very branchy trunk. The bark is opaque, wrinkled, with a color that varies from gray to brown, cracked in small plates and furrowed longitudinally. The leaves are deciduous, simple, with alternating insertion, oval lamina, asymmetrical base and pointed apex.
The flowers are hermaphrodite, sessile, grouped together, with a red color of the anthers and which bloom before the appearance of the leaves.
The fruits are samaras gathered in groups, orbicular about 20×17 mm, with a wing-shaped membranous extension of about 7 mm, of a green color then red that surrounds the seed that is located in the upper third of the fruit, near the smothered apex . They mature in the summer.
Ulmus minor is a species that shows good tolerance to cold, drought and air pollution. It prefers calcareous, clayey and deep soils, but can also live on poorer soils even if in extreme situations it will tend to take on a shrub form.
This plant can be propagated by seed (the germinability is around 60-90%) or by the root suckers or layering. Ornamental varieties are propagated by grafting or cutting. The sowing should take place on the same day as the dispersion of the seed, after being immersed in water for a few hours. Eventually it is possible to try to conserve the seeds by drying up to 10% and storing in sealed containers at 2-4 ° C. After sowing the surface moisture of the soil must be maintained, and within a few days the germination can be observed. The cuttings, on the other hand, must be taken during the vegetative rest, by suckers or branches of a year. The planting must be carried out at least 4-5 m of distance between the specimens grown in groups, for the rows the distance must be 8-10 m.
Uses and Traditions –
The elm tree is a plant that has been cultivated by man since the Bronze Age.
According to Virgil the elm was sacred to Morpheus, god of dreams, while the Romans already used the elm as a support in the cultivation of the vine.
Its leaves are proteic, so they constitute an excellent easily digestible forage and an excellent fertilizer. It can be used for consolidated land and banks, for reforestation, once, as mentioned, it also served as a guardian for vines. Today it is used in road trees, parks, gardens and as windbreaks.
Unfortunately, for some decades a fungal disease spread by Asia (graphiosis), is decimating the oldest specimens. However, scientific research has allowed the development of a variety of specimens showing resistance to this disease.
The elm wood of the country is of good quality and is easily workable and resistant to water; it is used for the construction of furniture, doors, floors and in the production of plywood. It is not a good fuel.
The subspecies present in Italy are: Ulmus minor subsp. canescens (Melville) Browicz & Ziel. and Ulmus minor Mill. subsp. minor.
Preparation Mode –
The leaves of the elm tree are rich in tannins, are macerated, decanted at 90 ° C for an hour, then filtered; the fabrics, previously etched, placed to simmer in the colored bath, are tinged with a warm brown hue.
– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Pharmacy of the Lord, Advice and experience with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Publisher
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora d’Italia, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (edited by), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only and do not in any way represent a medical prescription; there is therefore no liability for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.