Intricately blotched bark distinguishes Chinese elm.

Since the Dutch Elm Disease (DED) epidemic that killed so many old and stately American elm trees so many years ago, the old fashioned Chinese elm, Ulmus parvifolia, has been unavailable in nurseries. That is why there are only old and middle aged trees, and maybe a few feral seed grown trees. Chinese elm is not bothered much by the disease, but is a vector. ‘Drake’ is a modern DED resistant cultivar, but it has a very different personality, with a more upright and symmetrical structure.

The elegantly lanky trunk and main limbs can be quite curvacious, with distinctively blotched gray and tan bark. The deciduous foliage can be messy in autumn as it falls slowly and may linger through December. The neatly serrate leaves are only about an inch or two long, and half as wide. Mature trees can be more than fifty feet tall.


5 thoughts on “Chinese Elm

    1. So, lacebark elm is what we know as Chinese elm? There are a few cultivars available now, although none are overly popular. I still miss the old fashioned sort. I do not know if they were a cultivar, variety, or just grown from seed.

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    1. You know, I am not certain if I could distinguish the two. I thought that I knew what an American elm is, since a few old specimens remained as street trees in San Jose until recently. They have distinctly large leaves with lopsided bases. However, some arborists designate them as Siberian elm. I still believe that Siberian elms are the sort that are naturalized in portions of the Guadalupe River. They have smaller leaves that are not much bigger than those of Chinese elm. They are not such a problem here because they can not naturalize beyond urban or riparian situations, and even in riparian situations, they do not get very far. I am not certain if I have identified these trees correctly. While in Oklahoma, I met American elms that had leaves that are smaller than those of the American elms that I am familiar with, but larger than those of Siberian elms. Elms can be confusing.

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