A tree up to 120 ft high, with a trunk 6 ft or more in diameter, forming in isolated positions a wide-spreading head of branches gracefully pendulous at the ends, the whole as much in diameter as the tree is high; bark ashy grey, furrowed; winter buds ovoid, acute or bluntish; young shoots slender, at first downy. Leaves mostly oblong-ovate to elliptic, broadest about the middle, contracted at the apex to a long, slender point, unequal at the base, which is tapered on one side of the midrib, rounded on the other, doubly toothed, 4 to 6 in. long, 1 to 3 in. wide, dark green and glabrous or scabrid above, downy to almost glabrous beneath, lateral veins crowded, straight, running out to teeth; petiole about 1⁄4 in. long. Flowers produced before the leaves. Fruits ripening in the following spring as the leaves unfold, oval or obovate, nearly 1⁄2 in. long, beautifully fringed with pale hairs, the two incurved horns at the apex meeting and forming a small aperture, each fruit on a slender, pendulous stalk about 1 in. long.
Native of eastern and central N. America; introduced in 1752. The American elm is one of the finest and most picturesque trees of its native country, always marked by its beauty and grace of branching, and has been much planted as a shade tree since colonial times, but both in gardens and the wild it has suffered severely from Dutch Elm disease. It is closely allied to the Old World U. laevis.