Clipped Elm Twigs

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In late March or early April, you may notice clipped elm twig ends laying on the ground. The fruit (samaras) of the elms attract a lot of attention from squirrels, and the early spring clipping of these twigs is usually associated with squirrels going after the fruit. In Craven County, most of the elms along streams, in parks and other natural sites are American elms (Ulmus americana). The samaras are distinctive for the fringe of white hairs around the margins, and the small notch on the apex (the end of the seed away from the stalk). Identifying native elms from foliage alone can be very tricky, and it’s best to rely on the samaras when trying to separate – for example – American, slippery and winged elms.

IMage of elm seed

Samara of American elm.

Image of a clipped elm

Squirrel activity is the most likely answer.