European nettle tree
European nettle tree, Mediterranean hackberry, lote tree, honeyberry (Eng), almez, latonero (Spa), lledoner, lledó (Cat), almeza (Baq), lodoeiro (Glg), lódão-bastardo (Por).
DID YOU KNOW...? It has been suggested that the Lotus tree in Greek mythology is actually the European nettle tree. According to legend, Ulysses' crew forgot their homeland after eating its fruit.
This slender relative of the elm tree can reach 30 m in height. The uniform trunk resembles an elephant's leg due to its thin, smooth, grey bark. The leaves are deciduous, simple , alternate, oval-lanceolate, rounded at the base, with a serrated , asymmetrical margin. They are velvety to the touch and have an elongated tip (acuminate). The flowers appear in spring and are somewhat inconspicuous, as in other elms, in contrast to the ripe fruit, which is meaty, black, pea-sized, with a large stone and often remains after the leaves have fallen off.
The European nettle tree grows everywhere, but seldom forms pure stands; it is more common to see it together with other tree species in forests and associated with streams beds and ravines along with riparian trees. In fairly humid Mediterranean environments it grows from sea level up to 1200 m and is indifferent to soil type.
This elm lives in southern Europe, western Asia and northern Africa. On the Iberian Peninsula it is more abundant towards the east and south, becoming scarcer in the northwest. It is a tree that is widely planted as an ornamental —in ancient Rome it was already used for this purpose— and it becomes established in the wild easily.