elm

All Things Elm

When I was asked what my favorite kind of tree is, I had to think for about six seconds before I decided it’s an Elm tree, simply because I was born in Elm Grove, Wisconsin. I started looking into elms and they’re a proud bunch. Here’s my ‘All things Elm’ playlist.


Elms are a part of the Ulmaceae family, which sounded pretty unfamiliar to me. There are a lot of vowels in that word and I’m not sure I can pronounce it. For this reason, I chose the song The Vowels pt. 2 by the band Why? off their album Alopecia. It’s a little wacky, but then again so are elm trees.

In recent decades, many elms have died from Dutch elm disease a fungus caused by beetles. This summer I was in Belgium and there are pockets of the country that speak Dutch there. Frank Sinatra sings the song The Summer Wind perfectly. I wonder if there’s a Dutch version? Whether you follow my logic or not, I’m sure this song would sound beautiful under an elm tree on a breezy afternoon.

The Slippery Elm has an asymmetrical leaf. Maybe sometimes the slippery leaves wonder if they belong with the symmetrical leaves. (Yes, this really is the way my thought process works.) I thought of Bright Eyes’ “I Must Belong Somewhere from Casadaga because, well, every leaf must belong somewhere.

Just leave the epic poem on its yellowed page
Leave the gray macaw in his covered cage
Let the traveling band on the interstate remain

Elm wood happens to be resistant to decay when permanently wet, which sounds supernatural to me. Right now, Theopolis London is supernatural to me. He’s a rapper from Brooklyn that uses heavy electronic influences in his music. This song is called “Flying Overseas.”

If you use your imagination and listen carefully enough, you’ll feel supernatural yourself.Turns out the hollowed trunks of elms were used as water pipes during the medieval period in Europe (what?). Elm was also used to make piers in the construction of the original London Bridge, which calls for a song by James Blake. This song is called “Unluck.” Not bad for a guy who recorded an album from his bedroom.

More from the Leaf Lyrics collection:

“Leaves flutter like flames” – a haiku by Meghan Eldridge

“Stuck in a garden with no way to bargain” – a limerick by James Jordan

“If trees had names” – an illustration by Kat Seal

“Not all leaves are created equal” – a Footprint photo gallery

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