Common Name: Chinese elm, lacebark elm

Scientific Name: 
Family: Ulmaceae
Genus: Ulmus
Species: U. parvifolia

Hardiness Zone: 4 to 9
Height: 40 to 50 ft
Width: 25 to 40 ft

Common Characteristics: ​

Chinese elm, also known as lacebark elm, is a medium to large sized tree reaching about 40-50 feet a maturity with a rounded shape. The leaves are similar in appearance to other elms but are smaller in size (up to 2 inches long). They are alternate, simple, and serrated. The leaves are dark green, turning yellow and reddish purple in the autumn. The small flowers show in late summer and are reddish-green in color. The fruits are small one-seeded samaras. The thin mature bark flakes off to show various colors such as green, orange, gray, or brown. The mottled bark is a unique characteristic of Chinese elm. 

Where It Grows:

Chinese elm prefers moist, well-drained soils and full sun. It tolerates drought, some shade, road salt and air pollution.

How It's Used:

Chinese elm can be used in the landscape as an ornamental shade or street tree. Many enjoy this species of elm due to its unique bark, beautiful foliage and good resistance to Dutch elm disease. It is also good in urban landscapes because of its durability. 

Ecosystem Services:

Birds and small animals use this tree for nesting. Birds will also eat the seeds. 

Where It Is Native To:

This species of elm is native to China, Korea, and Japan. 

Known Varieties and Their Traits:

Athena lacebark elm (Ulmus parvifolia 'Emer I'): A variety of Chinese elm with unique peeling on the bark, dark green leaves, a rounded shape, and high resistance to Dutch elm disease.

Allee lacebark elm (Ulmus parvifolia 'Emer II'): A variety of Chinese elm with unique peeling on the bark, yellow fall leaves, a vase-shape, and high resistance to Dutch elm disease. 


Chinese elm has a good resistance to Dutch elm disease (DED), as well as Japanese beetle and elm leaf beetle. Chinese elm can have wilts, rots, cankers, or leaf spots. Other potential problems are elm yellows and elm leaf miner. 


Arbor Day Foundation

Missouri Botanical Garden

The Morton Arboretum