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Plants of the UNF Campus

Ulmus parviflora - Chinese elm
Family Ulmaceae


About eighteen species of elm are native to North America, Europe and Asia. Dutch Elm Disease decimated the American elm in the eastern United States. Formerly, it was an important timber tree. Several elms are cultivated today as shade trees. Chinese elm is native to Asia. It is resistant to Dutch Elm Disease. Many varieties have been selected for differences in growth habit, variegation in the leaves, and other qualities. It is a deciduous tree that usually holds its leaves very late into the winter. Patches of orange bark are displayed as the tan outer bark flakes off.


Chinese elm is an easy shade tree for the landscape and is commonly available in nurseries. The commonest variety in the southeast is ‘Drake.’ Unfortunately,  transplanted ‘Drake’ trees have a tendency to lean. Better varieties are available in the nursery trade. Chinese elms produce a lot of seed and the tree is considered weedy in some parts of the United States.


See this tree over the deck at OutTakes Plaza.


Large tree to seventy feet tall with some smaller growing cultivars.

Care Instructions:

Light: full sun

Water: best in a moist soil, some drought tolerant once established

Soil: average soil, wide pH tolerance, no special requirements

Chinese elm is an easy tree for northeast Florida. Grow it in a reasonably moist but not wet soil in full sun.