Elm Firewood

Here you'll find all the elm firewood information you need. Learn how to identify elm, its use as firewood and the ease splitting it.

Elm trees are native to eastern North America from Florida up to Newfoundland. Elms used to be more prevalent in the forest, but have been greatly reduced by a fungal disease known as dutch elm disease. They are large majestic looking trees that are now being planted more commonly because of a disease resistant cultivar that has been developed.

Identification Features

Elm is a large vase-shaped decidous tree that can grow over 90' tall. It features alternate branching with simple oval shaped leaves that have serrated edges. A good way to tell if a leaf is from an elm tree is to rub your fingers on the top of the leaf. If it is very rough and feels like sandpaper.....BINGO! You've found an elm.

The Bark is deeply ridged with a criss-cross pattern in mature trees. When young, the bark can be scaly.

Often times, elm will grow in wet areas. This, however, does not mean that it does not grow in dry areas because it often does.

For winter ID, you should look for chestnut-brown colored ovate shaped buds. Also, there will not be terminal buds(meaning they do not exist of the tips of the branches).

Processing Ease & Heating Value

Okay, I hate to break it to you but elm is a major pain to split. It usually has twisted grain and can be very difficult. I dread having to split elm by hand because it is very frustrating and time consuming. Honestly, unless you have a wood splitter, I don't recommend splitting elm.

It is fairly firm wood and actually burns decent. Elm firewood has an average heating value.


Because elm firewood can often be infected with dutch elm disease, you run the risk of infecting other elm trees by keeping it around.

You should peel off the bark of an elm tree after cutting it down to check for dark discolorations in the sapwood. If there are dark brown discolorations, the elm bark beetle (which carries the troublesome fungus) has been in the wood and can spread the disease to other healthy elm trees in the area.

Overall Firewood Value

Overall, I would only recommend using elm firewood if you have access to a woodsplitter. Otherwise I'd stay away from it. It simply isn't worth the time and aggravation to pound away at it all day by hand.


If you don't mind a challenge and don't have any other species that are suitable for firewood, then go for it! Just don't blame me when it takes twice as long to split as you anticipated. Good Luck!

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