Chinese Elm

Ulmus parvifolia
Category Tree
Size 30' x 30' to 40' x 40'
Flower Color
Flower Season Late Summer
Exposure Full Sun
Water deep irrigation during our hot, dry weather
Growth Rate Fast
Hardiness 20°F


This fast-growing shade tree grows thirty to forty feet tall with an equal spread and develops a broad, vase-like shape with a pendulous, weeping branch habit. It is semi-deciduous, losing its leaves in late December in the Southwest desert, but retaining its foliage in milder climates. The leaves are glossy, delicate, and dark green with an alternating leaf arrangement. The foliage turns a yellowish-brown before falling from the tree in cold weather. It has inconspicuous flowers in late summer followed by decorative green fruit. The Chinese elm has beautiful grayish-green, mottled bark that sheds with age, displaying varying colors. Use it as a single- or multiple-trunk tree and give it plenty of water for fast growth. It has many traits that make it a great landscape tree, producing a dense canopy of foliage that creates a graceful appearance. Use it as a specimen, residential shade, or street tree, in parking lots, or in a large patio area. It is a great reclamation plant or transition plant between the lush landscape and the desert. Chinese elm is native to China, Korea, and Japan.


It likes full sun and is adaptable to most soil types as long as they are well-draining. This tree is drought-tolerant but likes deep irrigation during our hot, dry weather. Chinese elm is hardy to about twenty degrees Fahrenheit. The tree requires minor pruning for clearance beneath its canopy and to develop a strong structure. It also needs light maintenance to rake up leaf drop in the winter. Prune and remove suckers that may re-sprout in other parts of the landscape.
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