Lacebark Elm Snack

lacebark elm plate
Lacebark elm leaves and seeds (with American Elm leaf for contrast)

I kept seeing these suspiciously perfect trees at Vandy—flanking the Children’s Hospital, standing guard along West End—with fluted columns and urbane foliage. When I noticed they had elm seeds in October (most elms produce seeds in spring), I investigated.

They are Lacebark Elm, a.k.a. Chinese Elm (Ulmus parvifolia), popular urban ornamentals. Cute lil’ leaves a fraction of the size of American elms, and the samaras hold edible seeds that are tasty though tiny.

lacebark elm seed, free of wings
seed, shorn of papery samara

Exotic species, yes, and not nearly as ecologically functional as a native species, of course, but I can’t resist the lovely bark and the free snack.

If you want to see a bunch in a row, go to Vandy’s Barnes and Noble: every tree in front of 2525 is a lacebark elm. Park beneath a low-hanging branch to nibble on peeled samaras. I just did, but there’s plenty for all.

lacebark elm bark - Version 2

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