The beautiful straight and sturdy trunk of the rock elm tree makes it the heaviest and strongest elm species on Earth today. Due to its sturdy nature, this tree has been harvested for years commercially to create items like pianos, hockey sticks, ships, home building and various furniture designs. Unfortunately because of these commercial uses, this beautiful tree is now disappearing from its range and from concerns of Dutch Elm Disease.
Identifying a Rock Elm
The Rock Elm is a medium-large sized tree measuring up to 30m in height and 75cm in diameter. Some of the oldest specimens of this tree are approximately 300 years old, a true testament to its hardy nature. Often referred to as a “cork elm” as some of the wings on older branches can feature irregularly and corky features, the Rock Elm also has distinct shiny dark green leaves and sharp plump buds. The dark green leaves of the rock elm can measure between 5-10cm in length and turn bright yellow during the fall months. The bark of this tree is a dark grey colour with a slight red tinge and can somewhat resemble that of a white elm.
Here in Ontario, this tree is prevalent in the eastern and southern regions of the province currently. This species native range also spreads into portions of New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Michigan and parts of Minnesota, South Dakota, Kansas, Tennessee, Virginia and Pennsylvania in the United States.