When Does an Elm Tree Fruit?

The American elm tree (Ulmus americana) is a large stately tree that complements the landscape. Also called white elm, water elm and delicate elm, this shrub is found throughout the country, particularly the eastern U.S, but it thrives in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 2 through 9. Elm tree inhabitants sharply declined in the past because of Dutch elm disease, spread by the bark beetle, but now disease-resistant cultivars exist. Elm trees blossom and fruit alongside other deciduous trees in the spring.

Elm Tree Basics

Elm trees are deciduous trees that hit 80 to 100 feet tall and 60 to 120 feet wide at maturity. The textured, gray spine of an elm tree is often as much as 4 to 7 ft broad. American elm trees have textured, deep green leaves with saw-toothed borders. The leaves turn a brilliant yellow hue in the fall before dropping in the winter. Elm trees thrive in several different soil types and conditions, provided that the soil drains correctly and the tree receives full sunlight to partial shade.


Also referred to as seeds or samaras, the Royal fruit of this elm tree is not edible by humans, and it doesn’t hold much aesthetic appeal. Fruit appears about the elm tree following flowering from the springtime. Elm tree seeds reach maturity in the end of the tree flowering cycle, and fall into the ground. The green seeds are flat and round, and are approximately 1 inch in length and thickness. A large, mature elm tree creates prolific amounts of seed pods, which induce a mess on yards, driveways and walkways. Luckily, wildlife and birds, such as mice, squirrels and opossums, consume elm tree vegetables, reducing some of this mess.

Spring Seeding

The weather through the spring dictates when an elm tree starts its annual flowering and fruiting. At a mild, Mediterranean climate, frosts don’t threaten to kill elm seed crops; but a wet spring can delay pollination. Flowers typically appear within a couple of weeks of pollination, which occurs as early as February. Elm trees start to fruit soon after the flowers appear. The fruit of this elm tree ripens and falls from the tree, with the fruiting and flowering cycle drawing to a close by the middle to the end of March.

Tree Age and Fruiting

The age of your elm tree plays a massive role in when the tree starts to make fruit. Seed production starts when an elm tree is approximately 15 years or older and is slow to begin. The tree does not produce fantastic quantities of seeds until it’s attained maturity, around age 40. Elm trees continue to fruit each year during their lifetime. Trees as old as 300 years continue to make fruit and flowers each spring.

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