Winged Elm (Ulmus alata)

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Winged Elm (Ulmus alata)

Post  Tree Hugger on Tue May 03, 2016 9:12 pm




I have been growing and "training" this winged elm (Ulmus alata) for the more than 17 years.  I harvested it as a seedling.  It was growing next to a building foundation in central Georgia.  It was pencil thin at the time and growing next to a restaurant patio that I was having lunch at.  I asked the waitress if I could save it as it was growing right up next to the brick foundation of the restaurant.  I saved a tree that I thought was a zelkova at the time, as similar "zelkova" trees were planted up and down the street.

I trunk chopped it once in 2012 when I moved to Maryland and then shorter again in 2015 at the suggestion of Rodney Clemmons.  It is quite hardy.

I am considering cutting it shorter yet once again.  I currently plan to raise it more so that more of the flare of the root system is exposed and replant it more toward vertical.  I will eventually shorten the apex after it thickens so that there is less of a transition.  I would like to know what experience others have with elms and if anyone would like to make suggestions to improve it overall.  


Thank you.

Christos, a novice.

PS, I am having difficulty attaching a picture.  Help is appreciated.


Last edited by Tree Hugger on Wed May 04, 2016 7:59 pm; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : trying to attach a picture)

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Re: Winged Elm (Ulmus alata)

Post  Tree Hugger on Wed May 04, 2016 8:00 pm

Added picture.

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Re: Winged Elm (Ulmus alata)

Post  Indo Andreas on Thu May 05, 2016 1:45 pm

To the picture, turn it around in whatever photo editor.
I would go formal upright, cut the long branch out, till the first two branches on top of the tree.
a nice flat rock or pot would for sure look nice.


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Re: Winged Elm (Ulmus alata)

Post  Leo Schordje on Thu May 05, 2016 7:25 pm

Your first and second chops have healed nicely as far as I can tell from the picture. The transition on the highest chop seems pretty close to being a smooth transition. Basically, I would say nice job, it is ready, either this year or next to do a major styling on it. If it were mine, since you know pretty much what you have hidden under the media in the pot. I would style it while in this pot. Work the branches, do your pruning and wiring, and let it continue to grow on the robust root system. Then in the second or third year after styling, I would transplant it to a smaller pot, probably still a bit ''oversized '' for bonsai display, but to take it through the next phase of training. I see a nice informal upright in there, using the bricks as a measure, I see a 32 inch tall finished tree. I could be guessing wrong, photos are only 2 dimensional, but I like what you have there.

I think it would be helpful if you showed it to someone in person to get design ideas. Many of the local bonsai clubs have ''bring your own tree'' workshops. Don't automatically do what your local experts suggest, Rather draw out their ideas, and digest them for a while before cutting. A design needs to appeal to you personally, rather than blindly follow someone elses lead.

Nice, I like that you trained a seedling into pre-bonsai with some real possibilities, rather than use ''finish'' techniques on too young a tree. Not everyone gets that. 17 years is a long time. Don't rush to the ''finish''.

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Re: Winged Elm (Ulmus alata)

Post  Tree Hugger on Fri May 06, 2016 4:14 pm

Leo Schordje wrote:I see a nice informal upright in there, using the bricks as a measure, I see a 32 inch tall finished tree. I could be guessing wrong, photos are only 2 dimensional.

Thank you for your comments and advice. You have the dimensions correct. I apologize for the orientation of the picture. I was having difficulty posting the picture.

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Re: Winged Elm (Ulmus alata)

Post  BrendanR on Mon May 09, 2016 10:21 am

I'd go much shorter. You have a load of very good low branches, and so you could have a really short powerful and aged looking tree.

I would spend this year wiring and positioning the lower branches and getting a good air layer of the top of the tree. I'd do the layer at about the 4th brick, so that the great taper is going to be the base of the next tree.

I would first do a load of research to make sure that this type of elm can be layered - but i am sure it is suitable.

What a great piece of material to work on, have fun and good luck.

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Re: Winged Elm (Ulmus alata)

Post  Indo Andreas on Mon May 09, 2016 12:04 pm

BrendanR wrote:I'd go much shorter.  You have a load of very good low branches, and so you could have a really short powerful and aged looking tree.

That option I agree too as well, a nice project to watch.

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Re: Winged Elm (Ulmus alata)

Post  Leo Schordje on Mon May 09, 2016 5:02 pm

Tree Hugger did a nice job of developing taper for a tall tree. I think his vision all along was for a taller tree. To finish this as a taller tree will only take a few, maybe 5 years of refinement. If he were to chop it low, say just above the first dramatic taper, it would take another 15 years or more to get a smooth transition to a new low apex. Otherwise he would have to do some creative carving, to make a believable shohin or kifu size tree. I'm encouraging him to keep with the taller image.

It is a good idea to begin wiring and placing branches, start at the bottom and work your way up. I would start with a photo, trace it to a line drawing, and begin working out the design. Then style the tree from a plan. He has grown it too long to just whack away without having a thought out plan.

Winged elms do air layer reasonably well. Not as easily as willow or ficus, but easier than many species. Most elms air layer well.

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Re: Winged Elm (Ulmus alata)

Post  BobbyLane on Wed May 11, 2016 3:30 pm

Whats it look like without the leaves? maybe if youre serious about improving it, take some pics from different angles, at the correct rotation. get some wire on it and begin by having everything rising upwards like a deciduous in the wild. you've been training it for 17 years you say and probably know more about this tree than most and i must say it looks great, the taper is fantastic. i'd keep it tall and somewhat slender...maybe if you post some images of how you'd like it to look?? we can all say do this and do that and post pics of trees in nature, but whats your own vision for it? do you have something in mind? Lets see some images...

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Re: Winged Elm (Ulmus alata)

Post  Tree Hugger on Thu May 12, 2016 1:01 pm

BobbyLane wrote:Whats it look like without the leaves? ... get some wire on it and begin by having everything rising upwards like a deciduous in the wild. you've been training it for 17 years you say and probably know more about this tree than most and i must say it looks great, the taper is fantastic. i'd keep it tall and somewhat slender...maybe if you post some images of how you'd like it to look?? we can all say do this and do that and post pics of trees in nature, but whats your own vision for it? do you have something in mind? Lets see some images...

Thank you for your comments. I do not currently have a picture of the tree without its leaves. I have never defoliated it and do not plan to do so unless someone convinces me to. I would rather the leader thicken. I will try to remember to take pictures this coming fall and winter.

My vision is for an upright, formal or informal, that mimics some of the larger and older American beech trees that I see here in Maryland. I am considering shortening it but not looking forward to moving backward. Fortunately it is very hardy and does grow new leaders quickly. I recommend winged elms for the hardiness, small leaves and branching.

I will expose more of the root base and flare on the next replanting which I plan to do in about 10 months. I have never thought about wiring the branches to rise more upward. I thought everyone goes for downward to give the appearance of age. I have not really trained it for 17 years. I have grown it from a seedling for 17 years with minimal human intervention except for one trunk chop in 2010 followed with a later LOWER trunk chop (suggested by Rodney Clemons at the yearly PBA event in DC, spring 2015 I think). I have done some clipping and a little bit of wiring of the first leader which is now gone.

Thank you again for your advice and comments.

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Re: Winged Elm (Ulmus alata)

Post  BobbyLane on Thu May 12, 2016 2:15 pm

Tree Hugger wrote:
BobbyLane wrote:Whats it look like without the leaves? ... get some wire on it and begin by having everything rising upwards like a deciduous in the wild. you've been training it for 17 years you say and probably know more about this tree than most and i must say it looks great, the taper is fantastic. i'd keep it tall and somewhat slender...maybe if you post some images of how you'd like it to look?? we can all say do this and do that and post pics of trees in nature, but whats your own vision for it? do you have something in mind? Lets see some images...

Thank you for your comments.  I do not currently have a picture of the tree without its leaves.  I have never defoliated it and do not plan to do so unless someone convinces me to.  I would rather the leader thicken.  I will try to remember to take pictures this coming fall and winter.

My vision is for an upright, formal or informal, that mimics some of the larger and older American beech trees that I see here in Maryland.  I am considering shortening it but not looking forward to moving backward.  Fortunately it is very hardy and does grow new leaders quickly.  I recommend winged elms for the hardiness, small leaves and branching.

I will expose more of the root base and flare on the next replanting which I plan to do in about 10 months.  I have never thought about wiring the branches to rise more upward.  I thought everyone goes for downward to give the appearance of age.  I have not really trained it for 17 years.  I have grown it from a seedling for 17 years with minimal human intervention except for one trunk chop in 2010 followed with a later LOWER trunk chop (suggested by Rodney Clemons at the yearly PBA event in DC, spring 2015 I think).  I have done some clipping and a little bit of wiring of the first leader which is now gone.

Thank you again for your advice and comments.

Hi, not asking you to defoliate, since its a native deciduous i would have thought you might have took pics in its dormant period, bearing in mind you've had it for such a long time. sagging branches dont convey age its an old wifes tale, nor do all of the branches on an old tree sag. especially on a deciduous tree....sharp directional changes in branch structure, character and texture of bark, ramification, shape/girth/base of the trunk are the main things that convey age, including a powerful root structure in some cases. i think if you want to keep everything sagging on an Elm, youre heading towards a conifer type look, especially with the formal trunk line. but if thats what you like..

I found an image of an American Beech



I noted how everything wants to grow upwards.

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Re: Winged Elm (Ulmus alata)

Post  Tree Hugger on Tue May 17, 2016 3:17 pm

BobbyLane wrote:
I found an image of an American Beech......I noted how everything wants to grow upwards.

Thank for the response. I was thinking something like this.



Or this.




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Re: Winged Elm (Ulmus alata)

Post  AlainK on Tue May 17, 2016 5:22 pm

Tree Hugger wrote:
BobbyLane wrote:
I found an image of an American Beech......I noted how everything wants to grow upwards.
[/quote]

It depends on the species and the conditions it is grows, but most mature deciduous look more like the second picture Treehugger posted, a bit like a Spanish tilde   ~  (on the right side).  Smile

The base of a limb first goes upward, with the years, it arches downward because of the weight of new shoots and leaves, then the smaller branches tend to resume an upward growth (light, apical dominance).

So if the angle is too sharp downward, yes, it will look like a conifer, but if at some point it doesn't bent downward, it will always look like a very young tree.

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Re: Winged Elm (Ulmus alata)

Post  Tree Hugger on Fri May 20, 2016 8:38 pm

AlainK wrote: ... most mature deciduous look more like the second picture Treehugger posted, a bit like a Spanish tilde   ~  (on the right side).

AHA, this makes sense to me.

AlainK wrote: The base of a limb first goes upward, with the years, it arches downward because of the weight of new shoots and leaves, then the smaller branches tend to resume an upward growth (light, apical dominance).

So if the angle is too sharp downward, yes, it will look like a conifer, but if at some point it doesn't bent downward, it will always look like a very young tree.

I also agree with this. I think it is a balancing act. Not too downward and not too upward.

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Re: Winged Elm (Ulmus alata)

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