Plant DetailShow Menu

Ulmus parvifolia

Phonetic Spelling
ULM-us par-vi-FO-li-ah
Description

Chinese elm is a large ornamental deciduous shade tree in the Ulmaceae (elm) family native to China, Korea, and Japan. It is a tough, durable, upright tree that grows quickly to 40 to 60 feet tall and wide and is easy to transplant.

Winter interest is provided by the exfoliating bark that appears in shades of brown, tan, gray, olive, or cinnamon. Plant in the full sun to partial shade and while it is adaptable to different soil and pH types, it prefers well-drained soil. It tolerates being planted in wet sites and is moderately salt tolerant. There is great variability among seedlings, and there are many cultivars available.

Chinese Elm makes a shade-resistant street or urban tree that is resistant to Dutch elm disease and air pollution. Unfortunately, it has very low wind resistance and has the potential to be weedy through self-seeding in surrounding landscapes. It is used in bonsai.

Seasons of Interest:

Bark:   Winter          Bloom: Late Spring, Summer, or Fall        Foliage:  Summer and Fall    Fruit:  Fall and Early Winter

Quick ID Hints: 

  • lacy, exfoliating bark in shades of brown, tan, olive, and cinnamon
  • Inverted pins bearing leaves
  • leaves simple, alternate, glossy dark green, smooth upper surface, and hairy on the lower surface
  • leaves asymmetrical, parallel veins
  • leaves coriaceous, persisting, medium to very small
  • blooms in late summer in clusters
  • fruits are samara, elliptical to ovate with the seed in the center

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  Do not plant near structures or in natural areas.  It is potentially invasive.  Branches can break when stressed with wind, snow, or ice.  Has good resistance to Japanese beetle and elm leaf beetle. Also has good resistance to Dutch elm disease, a fatal fungal disease spread by airborne bark beetles.  It occasionally experiences disease problems like wilts, rots, cankers, and leaf spots.

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Bonsai Garden
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Allee'
    arching branches, upright vase habit, 50 feet tall, and 35 feet wide
  • 'Athena'
  • 'Bosque'
    pyramidal-columnar, ascending branches, 45 feet tall, and 30 feet wide
  • 'Drake'
  • 'Everclear'
  • 'Frosty'
    tree or shrub, up to 8 feet tall, small green leaves edged with white or completely white
  • 'Golden Ray'
  • 'Hakkaido'
    dwarf shrub, small, leathery leaves
  • 'Seiju'
    dwarf, slow growing, 2 to 10 feet tall with tiny leaves and corky bark as it matures
'Allee', 'Athena', 'Bosque', 'Drake', 'Everclear', 'Frosty', 'Golden Ray', 'Hakkaido', 'Seiju'
Tags:
#deciduous#shade tree#drought tolerant#interesting bark#weedy#bonsai#salt tolerant#winter interest#air pollution tolerant#street tree#cpp#children's garden#playground plant#self-seeding#fantz#exfoliating bark#urban conditions tolerant#wet soils tolerant#clay soils tolerant#wind damage prone#stormwater demo garden orange co#insect resistant#landscape plant sleuths course
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Allee'
    arching branches, upright vase habit, 50 feet tall, and 35 feet wide
  • 'Athena'
  • 'Bosque'
    pyramidal-columnar, ascending branches, 45 feet tall, and 30 feet wide
  • 'Drake'
  • 'Everclear'
  • 'Frosty'
    tree or shrub, up to 8 feet tall, small green leaves edged with white or completely white
  • 'Golden Ray'
  • 'Hakkaido'
    dwarf shrub, small, leathery leaves
  • 'Seiju'
    dwarf, slow growing, 2 to 10 feet tall with tiny leaves and corky bark as it matures
'Allee', 'Athena', 'Bosque', 'Drake', 'Everclear', 'Frosty', 'Golden Ray', 'Hakkaido', 'Seiju'
Tags:
#deciduous#shade tree#drought tolerant#interesting bark#weedy#bonsai#salt tolerant#winter interest#air pollution tolerant#street tree#cpp#children's garden#playground plant#self-seeding#fantz#exfoliating bark#urban conditions tolerant#wet soils tolerant#clay soils tolerant#wind damage prone#stormwater demo garden orange co#insect resistant#landscape plant sleuths course
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Ulmus
    Species:
    parvifolia
    Family:
    Ulmaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Immature fruits have been used raw or cooked.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Northern to Central China, Japan, and Korea
    Play Value:
    Shade
    Textural
    Dimensions:
    Height: 40 ft. 0 in. - 50 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 35 ft. 0 in. - 50 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Semi-evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Dense
    Erect
    Rounded
    Vase
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    High
    Medium
    Texture:
    Fine
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    24-60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5b, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a, 10a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Winter
    Fruit Type:
    Samara
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Fruit is a light brown, oblong, flattened, and papery winged samara that measures about 0.5 inches long. The fruit appears in the fall and may last through early winter.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Green
    Red/Burgundy
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Insignificant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Description:
    Male and female flowers on the same tree are insignificant and reddish green in late spring, summer, or fall.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Semi-evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Smooth
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Obovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are dark green, simple, alternate, elliptic to obovate, and measure 1 to 2.5 inches long and 0.5 to 1.5 inches wide. They are serrate, acute to sub acuminate, weakly asymmetrical at the base to oblique, lateral veins parallel, each one ending in a tooth, and the lower surface has minute hairy tufts in the vein axils. The upper surface is glossy, and the lower surface is paler. Fall foliage color ranges from green, yellow, purple, or red.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Green
    Light Brown
    Light Gray
    Orange
    Surface/Attachment:
    Exfoliating
    Bark Description:
    The bark is exfoliating in irregular patterns, mottled, exposing lighter bark below. The irregular patterns appear in shades of brown, tan, gray, olive, and cinnamon.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gray/Silver
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Buds:
    Scaly
    Stem Description:
    Stems bearing inverted pins. Buds are small, ellipsoidal, blunt, scales brown.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Container
    Lawn
    Recreational Play Area
    Landscape Theme:
    Children's Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Shade Tree
    Specimen
    Street Tree
    Attracts:
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Insect Pests
    Salt
    Urban Conditions
    Wet Soil
    Problems:
    Weak Wood
    Weedy