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Evergreen Elm Ulmus parvifolia

Other Common Name(s):

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

Chinese elm is a woody, deciduous, shade tree in the elm family (Ulmaceae) and native to China, Korea and Japan. It has an upright habit and grows quickly to 40 to 50 feet tall and wide. 

It requires full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil, though it will tolerate moist sites. It adapts to a variety of soil textures and pH. Seed is the best way to propagate Chinese elm. It resists Japanese beetles, elm leaf beetles and Dutch elm disease.  

Seasonal interest is provided by showy leaves, exfoliating bark, and colorful fall foliage. There is great variability among seedlings, and there are many cultivars available. Songbirds are attracted to this tree. 

Chinese elm is recommended as a specimen or shade tree in a lawn, recreational play area and children’s or winter gardens, However, avoid planting it near structures. Its low wind resistance causes branches to break. Its moderate salt tolerance makes it a good choice for coastal gardens. 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. Please consider planting the NC native alternatives listed on the left side of this page. It is also used in bonsai..  

Quick ID Hints

  • The bark is lacy, exfoliating and in shades of brown, tan, olive, and cinnamon.
  • Inverted pins bear leaves.
  • The leaves are simple, alternate, glossy dark green, smooth upper surface and hairy on the lower surface.
  • Leaves are asymmetrical and have parallel veins.
  • Leaves are coriaceous, persisting, medium to very small.
  • It blooms in late summer in clusters.
  • Fruits are samara, elliptic to ovate with the seed in the center.

Insects, Diseases and Other Plant Problems: Its propensity to self-seed may cause it to be weedy in surrounding landscapes.The wood is weak and branches can break when stressed with wind, snow or ice. It occasionally experiences disease problems like wilts, rots, cankers and leaf spots. 

 

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Bonsai Garden in Davidson County
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'
  • 'Emer 11' Ulmus parvifolia 'Emer 11'
  • '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', 'Emer 11', 'Everclear', 'Frosty', 'Golden Ray', 'Hakkaido', 'Seiju'
Tags:
#deciduous#shade tree#drought tolerant#interesting bark#bonsai#salt tolerant#winter interest#air pollution tolerant#street tree#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#weed#insect resistant#landscape plant sleuths course#cpp
 
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'
  • 'Emer 11' Ulmus parvifolia 'Emer 11'
  • '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', 'Emer 11', 'Everclear', 'Frosty', 'Golden Ray', 'Hakkaido', 'Seiju'
Tags:
#deciduous#shade tree#drought tolerant#interesting bark#bonsai#salt tolerant#winter interest#air pollution tolerant#street tree#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#weed#insect resistant#landscape plant sleuths course#cpp
  • 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:
    Perennial
    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, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 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