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Facts About the Chinese Elm Tree

The Chinese elm (Ulmus parvifolia) is a deciduous tree commonly cultivated as a shade and avenue tree. A native of Korea, Japan and China, the tree is also grown as a bonsai.


Chinese elm grows to be between 40 to 50 feet tall, producing deciduous leaves and a mottled orange and gray bark that flakes off in sheets. Bonsai cultivars such as Hokkaido grow to be about a foot tall.


Chinese elm is a suitable landscape plant for USDA zones 5 to 9, where it will grow in full sun or partial shade. The tree is tolerant of a wide range of conditions, and will grow in poor, salty soils as well as fertile, rich soils.


Chinese elm is largely pest- and disease-free, although it may struggle with borers and chewing insects. Chinese elm is a prolific reseeder, and may become invasive in warm climates.

Fast Does A Chinese Elm Tree Grow?

The Chinese Elm is a widely adaptable tree, winter hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 10. In the warmer end of its growing range, it is evergreen, while in colder areas it provides good winter color. Capable of adding 12 to 36 inches of height per season, the Chinese elm is a very rapidly growing tree. Chinese elm will grow in partial shade or full sun. It tolerates a wide range of soils, but prefers good drainage. If you buy it when it is older from an experienced nursery, however, you will spend less time training and pruning to develop the single, high trunk without low, drooping branches. It works well as a shade or specimen tree, but also can be planted in rows along a street or to form a screen. Some cultivars can be used for bonsai. The Chinese elm should not be confused with the Siberian elm (Ulmus pumila), which is hardy to USDA zones 4 through 9 and can be invasive, as well as a poor landscape tree.

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