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Scientific: Ulmus parvifolia
Common: Chinese elm, evergreen elm, lacebark elm
Family: Ulmaceae
Origin: China

Invasive secrets: Chinese elm trees can naturalize (reseed) in heavily and not so heavily irrigated landscapes in Phoenix and southern California.

Pronounciation: UL-mus par-vi-FO-le-a

Hardiness zones
8,9, 12-24
USDA 6-11

Landscape Use: Residential shade tree, street tree, accent. Also, makes an excellent bonsai.

Form & Character: Upright, inverted vase with an open canopy and umbrella top spread, small branches are weeping especially if propagated from stem cutting. With training. Seedling grown trees will have a nice symmetrical form. Cutting grown trees will struggle to show full symmetry.

Special note about form: It is duly noted that Chinese elm trees can have the quintessential inverted vase form that's the ideal form for trees in urban settings.

Growth Habit: Woody, semi-evergreen to deciduous perennial tree, Moderate to fast grower to 40- to 60-feet tall with equal spread.

Foliage/Texture: Small, 1-to 3-inches long, elliptic to ovate leaves with serrate margins and an inequilaterally or cuneate base, alternate arrangement, 'bark' is shed in a 'puzzle-piece' fashion; medium fine texture.

Flowers & Fruits: Flowers greenish yellow in late summer of year followed by single-winged samara that are greenish pink in late fall to winter.

Seasonal Color: Brilliant, light green foliage during spring, sometimes senescing foliage turns yellowish-red during years in Phoenix when late fall and early winter temperatures are cooler than normal (such as happened during the fall and winter of 2022/23). Chinese elm trees remain evergreen in coastal southern California.

Temperature: Cold hardy, but in Phoenix the foliage will become marginally necrotic in late summer and early fall due to summer heat stress.

Light: Full sun

Soil: Tolerant

Watering: To maintain vigor, irrigate regularly during spring, summer and early fall. Supplemental water also improves appearance.

Pruning: Needs to be vigorously trained and staked when young, ESPECIALLY if asexually propagated from stem cuttings.

Propagation: Cutting or seed. Most locally available trees are asexually propagated from stem cuttings.

Disease and Pests: Sometimes susceptible to Texas root rot, but resistance to Dutch elm disease. In addition, cultivars 'Drake', 'Truegreen' and 'Evergreen' are susceptible to canker disease (Fusarium lateritium and Diplodia sp).

Additional comments: Chinese elm is one of the BEST mesic shade trees for lower Arizona desert landscapes. It has the quintessential form (inverted vase like) for urban planting sites. There are numerous cultivars such as:

Taxonomic confusion: Chinese elm is sometimes to often confused with its taxonomic cousin Ulmus pumila (Siberian elm) in the nursery and landscape trades. They are definitely NOT the same!! Siberian elm flowers in spring, has a relatively stiff and rigid growth habit, has weaker and more brittle wood, produces more litter and debris (aka storm damage), and has less glossy leaves than Chinese elm. In the United States, most experts outside of the upper Midwest and Plains states (where Chinese elm does not grow) consider Siberian elm to be a trash tree when compared to the more elegant Chinese elm.