Characteristics of Chinese Elm Tree (Ulmus parvifolia) in the Wild

Ulmus parvifolia
Chinese Elm (Ulmus parvifolia) is a species of tree native to East Asia, including China, Taiwan, Japan, North Korea, and Vietnam. The Chinese Elm tree is described as one of the most beautiful elms among Elm because it has attractive leaves similar to Nothofagus.

Chinese Elm was introduced to England in 1794 by James Main, who was collected from China for Gilbert Slater.

Many gardeners and plant sellers mistakenly refer to Chinese Elm (Ulmus parvifolia) as Siberian Elm (Ulmus pumila) because the two are truly similar. But, the similarity has given a bad reputation for the original Chinese Elm.

To distinguish between genuine Chinese Elm and Siberian Elm apart from their origin is the bark of the tree. Siberian Elm bark will become very wrinkled, rough, and grayish-black when the tree becomes mature, while the original Chinese Elm bark is smoother and has very distinctive bright colored spots.


Characteristics of Chinese Elm Leaf

Ulmus parvifolia Leaf
Source :

The leaves are single, green, have toothed edges, are rough, are small in size, 2-5 cm long and 1-3 cm wide.


Characteristics of Chinese Elm Fruit

Ulmus parvifolia Fruit
Source : Garin

The fruit is elliptical to ovoid, 10-13 mm long with 6-8 mm wide. Most are hairy, grow on stems with a length of 1-3 mm, and appear late in autumn.


Characteristics of the Chinese Elm Tree

Ulmus parvifolia Tree
Source : Forestry

Chinese elms grow in the form of small to medium trees and can reach 15-18 meters high. The stem has light gray skin and peels with a reddish-brown color.


All species of elms have hard and strong wood which makes them popular as tools, bows, and baseball bats.

Chinese elmwood is considered the best, durable, and superior. That’s why Chinese elmwood is widely used for furniture, wood flooring, and special use.

Chinese elm trees are generally planted as ornamental trees in Japan, especially around Osaka. This tree is also often used as a bonsai tree or as an ornamental tree, landscape, garden, and shrub plants in the yard.


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