Chinese Elm “Ulmus Parvifolia”

This is Tom, Toad Valley’s Friendly Tree Guy, back with my first introduction to the trees of Toad Valley.  If you recall, I earlier described how I have planted nearly all of the trees on the course.  Over the years, I have planted almost 300 different varieties.  Today I’m going to introduce you to the Chinese Elm.  This article was originally written in the year 2001-ish for Timber Talk which is a quarterly newsletter for the Iowa Woodland Owners Association.  I have added more information at the end of the article about how the trees are doing now.

This tree should not be confused with the Siberian Elm “Ulmus Pulmila” which I consider to be a weed tree whose only good attribute is fast growth.

Chinese Elm, also know as Lacebark Elm, has the American Elm Shape (sort of) but is resistant to the Dutch Elm Disease and the Elm Leaf Beetle.  It has a weeping appearance and grows up to 50 feet tall.  It has small leaves that have good fall color from yellow to purple.  The trees that I have are too young, but the trees flower in late summer to early autumn and then set its seeds.  Various publications describe the flowers as red to light green.  They are subtle but add to the tree’s interest.  The seeds are small with pale green wings.  They hang in clusters that contrast with the darker leaves.

The best attribute of the Chinese Elm is its mottled bark which is shades of gray, green, orange and brown.  Unfortunately this happens on older trees.  I planted one tree in 1997 and 500 more in 1998, so I will have to wait to see this bark.


The tree has a wide range and we’re on its northern edge in zone 5.  I’ve seen them growing in Florida and California as well as at the Iowa Arboretum in Boone, Iowa.  If you can find a northern source, then I encourage you to plant one where you can view its magnificent bark.

Since I wrote this article 10 or 12 years ago, most of the 500 trees didn’t survive.  They were planted in our CRP ground (this is the ground that is in between the golf course and NE 80th, just north of number 1).  Many just couldn’t handle our winters, but also deer apparently think trees are candy.  There are two Chinese Elm on the golf course.  One is on hole number 11 right about 100 yards short of the green and the other is on hole number 4 on the right about 75 yards short of the 150 yard marker.  Both are starting to show the mottled bark and are producing tiny seeds in the fall (this is unusual for an elm).  They are 15 to 20 feet tall.  They are, as their name implies, imported from the Asian continent.

The Human Squirrel,

Tom Brady

original source for the picture comes from

Post by Allison

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