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applestar
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Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

can you tell me what tree/shrub this is?

My gardening philosophy is "anything that wants to grow in my garden gets to stay and grow unless it's poisonous or noxious." So volunteer trees and shrubs are allowed to grow until identified, then are moved to more convenient location as necessary. I have a viburnum bush that has gorgeous pinky/white fragrant flowers that just finished blooming (originally found growing in a crevice of the front walk) and a wild crabapple that is in full bloom, among others in the back yard, and a couple of Japanese maples and Bradford pears in the front yard.

So usually, I have no trouble ID'ing them, but this one has me stumped. I have what appears to be a tree growing in my flowerbed next to the house. I really should've done this last year -- now it's getting way too big and I have to move it (with difficulty) or cut it down.

Can you help me? Here are a couple of photos:
[img]https://i10.photobucket.com/albums/a123/njhorse/NHR/Image757.jpg[/img] [img]https://i10.photobucket.com/albums/a123/njhorse/NHR/Image759.jpg[/img]

... Today, I went to a beautiful location called Sayen House and Gardens in Hamilton, NJ (www.sayengardens.org) for a friend's mom's memorial services and saw this very same plant. It appears to be either a tall shrub or an understory tree with a spreading/umbrella like growth habit and bears clusters of small hydrangea-like flowers -- i.e. umbels of buds flower from outside-in. (ugh, should've taken a picture, but it didn't occur to me) I didn't get a chance to speak to anyone from the gardens and it wasn't labeled, so I still don't know what it's called.

!!! THEN I tried Google Imaging for tree hydrangea and found "wild hydrangea" which is definitely the tree I saw at the gardens -- but the closeup of it doesn't look like the leaves I have!!! So now I'm wondering if I jumped to conclusions at the gardens. I found another tree ID by leaf site and now I'm wondering if this is a slippery elm -- not as WOW as the hydrangea, but still might be worth keeping for herbal/medicinal properties...

Since it's a volunteer, it's fruit or nut is probably favored by birds. It's also possible that it has an interesting seed that one of my kids picked up and planted there. It's hard to see but the leaf is deeply creased along the veins. Here are some more pics.
[img]https://i10.photobucket.com/albums/a123/njhorse/NHR/Image770.jpg[/img] [img]https://i10.photobucket.com/albums/a123/njhorse/NHR/Image762.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i10.photobucket.com/albums/a123/njhorse/NHR/Image768.jpg[/img] [img]https://i10.photobucket.com/albums/a123/njhorse/NHR/Image765.jpg[/img] [img]https://i10.photobucket.com/albums/a123/njhorse/NHR/Image767.jpg[/img]

Thanks!

TheLorax
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Going by your placemat and the ruler as a means by which to determine leaf length, those leaves look to be consistent with that which would be Siberian Elm or a Siberian Elm hybrid.

Most of the Siberian elms appearing around here have leaves that are less than 2" like yours and that growth rate you described is consistent with the species also.

[url=https://images.search.yahoo.com/search/images?p=ulmus+pumila&ei=UTF-8&fr=yfp-t-368&xargs=0&pstart=1&b=21&ni=20]SiberianElm (Ulmis pumila)[/url]

https://www.uwgb.edu/biodiversity/herbarium/trees/ulmpum01.htm
excerpt from above-
Ulmus pumila has smaller leaves than Ulmus americana (less than 7 cm), the leaf bases are symmetrical or nearly so and the leaf margins are singly toothed. The buds are plump and broadly rounded at the tip, the scales are strongly ciliate and the leaf bud scales are very dark (almost black) in color.
Excellent herbarium specimens here-
[url=https://www.wnmu.edu/academic/nspages/Botany/Ulmaceae/Ulmus_pumila.htm]Siberian Elm (Ulmis pumila) herbarium specimens[/url]

Siberian Elm is formally listed as both an invasive species and a noxious weed. If this is what you have, you probably won't want to transplant it anywhere. I remove these all the time. They are easy at this size to get out of the ground by just digging them up and you won't need to use any chemicals. I toss them in a burn pile.

Let me know if this is what you think just popped up in your yard after you look at the photos at the links. I'm sort of struggling with your photos.

Welcome to THG. Really great you have the patience to wait for an ID before you destroy or transplant what is popping up in your yard. Good that you are familiar with the term noxious weed also.

TheLorax
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Eesh, forgot to mention that I'm pretty sure you don't have Ulmus rubra (Slippery Elm).

https://botit.botany.wisc.edu/images/130/Trees_and_Shrubs/10_common_Genera/Ulmus/

Slippery Elm would be a really great addition to your yard!

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applestar
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Thank you for your response! I'm pretty sure now that it IS an elm -- I have a vague recollection of the flying-saucer/round raviolli-shaped seeds as being something that my 6 yr old collected (she's a BORN naturalist and collects seeds, flowers, leaves, bugs, shells, seaweeds, etc.:D )... but which one? The Siberian elm in the very helpful links you've provided appear to have elongated shield-like leaves, but this one's are a bit more squat and spade-like. I wish I can remember if the seeds were hairy or not! :oops:

Why do you think it's not likely to be a slippery elm? Is it because of a botanical feature of this mystery elm? If not, does the likelihood increase if she'd found the seeds at a managed/historic location? Possibilities that come to mind from places we've visited during last autumn are: Philadelphia Zoo, Morris Arboretum, Pennsbury Manor (historic preserved plantation that belonged to William Penn), Howell Living History Farm, Wheaton Arts/Village (Millville, NJ -- historic village/glass factory), Paws Farm (historic farm-turned-kids activity center with preserved ice house, smoke house, blacksmith shop).... I'm reminded that I should be more diligent about keeping notes! :?

TheLorax
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Some leaves are elongated and shield-like as you noticed but some aren't for Ulmus pumila. There is variability in the shape of the leaves and Ulmus pumila does hybridize but... the leaf bases on the plant you photographed are symmetrical and that would be the botanical feature give away that I spotted to help me be able to comment on your mystery plant. Leaf bases are not symmetrical on Ulmus rubra. They are always lopsided. Leaf bases on Ulmus americana (American Elm) are also not symmetrical and the margins are always double toothed and the leaves you photographed look single toothed to me. Leaf length on Slippery Elm is around 4" but can be longer and same deal with American Elm however American Elm leaves can be even longer than Slippery Elm leaves.

Doesn't matter where you found it, Siberian Elm pops up all over the place these days which is why it's classified as a noxious weed as well as an invasive species.

I get at least 25 Siberian Elm volunteers a year. I also get about the same number of Sawtooth Oak volunteers a year. I used to get a lot more but they started removing them from state property so that really cut down on what was ending up over here.

I have one remaining American Elm on this property and have planted a few Slippery Elms as well as quite a few DED resistant elms to replace trees lost to DED here. I'm somewhat more familiar with elms than others.

Pretty sure you have Siberian Elm there from the leaves you photographed but admittedly don't see well enough to be in a position to say for sure that's what you have without your leaves in front of my face. You have the benefit of the leaves, try going back to the links I gave you and hold them up to your monitor while you've got the images of the other elms up and focus on the leaf bases but also focus on the margins of the leaves. Let your little budding naturalist look with you and point out the differences as you spot them. It's really great when a child expresses an interest in the environment and you've got a great opportunity that fell in your lap to explain to her which species belong in nature and which don't. Say, there's a Junior Naturalists program in your state and you might even be able to find a local program for her. Way cool that you have a child who is interested. Lucky you.

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applestar
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Thanks for all your help. I've sat down and compared and I believe you ARE correct -- Siberian elm. The good news is now I can sneak up on it and lop it down and surreptitiously drag the remains away so as not to scare the cardinals (I'll deal with the stump later -- ref. https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=7725). 8) The male may miss it though, since he's been using its branches as handy perches. He's essentially claimed the entire area, including all of the patio as his territory and spends 1/2 the day hopping around on the patio furniture, chirping. I also see him hopping all over my roof when I'm outside. The chicks must have hatched because I see both of them busily bringing little bugs to the nest now.

I really liked your suggestion to involve the kids. My older daughter (9) has collected leaves from all the trees she could, taped them to a folded drawing paper, and labeled them. I've piled phonebooks on it in the hopes of keeping this new project intact. :D

I'll look into the jr naturalist program. Thanks!

TheLorax
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My hat goes off to you for taking the time to compare. There are many look alike mild mannered and not so mild mannered species out there.

If your male cardinal is using your Siberian Elm as a perch, no need to remove it right now. Trust me, it isn't going anywhere unassisted. Simply girdle it. You can very easily take a pocket knife and strip off the outer bark exposing the cambium layer. This way you can leave it be until Mr. Cardinal's babies fledge.

The world's a much nicer place with people like you in it.

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