Content Detail

Chinese or lacebark elm stands out from other elms. It has an unusual mottled bark, leaves that are smaller than those of other elm species and good resistance to Dutch elm disease (DED) and elm leaf beetle.

  • Family (English) Elm
  • Family (botanic) Ulmaceae
  • Planting site City parkway, Residential and parks, Restricted sites, Wide median
  • Tree or plant type Tree
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Large tree (more than 40 feet)
  • Mature height 40-50 feet
  • Mature width 40-50 feet
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 5 (Chicago), Zone 6, Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Clay soil, Dry sites, Occasional drought, Road salt
  • Season of interest early fall, early winter, late fall, late winter, mid fall, midwinter
  • Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous
  • Shape or form Round
  • Growth rate Moderate
  • Transplants well Yes
  • Wildlife Migrant birds
  • Has cultivars Yes

Native geographic location and habitat:

This tree is native to China, Korea and Japan.

Bark color and texture:  

The bark of this species is very different from the bark of other elms.  It is thinner and has a mottled appearance, with pieces of bark peeling away.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

Leaves are alternate, simple and have the typical shape of an elm leaf, but are smaller than most elm species (3/4 to 2 inches long).  They have toothed leaf margins, are dark green in summer, and change to yellow and reddish purple in fall.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

Flowers are inconspicuous and produced in late summer rather than in spring.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

The fruit is a seed in small oval samara (seed case with wings for wind dispersal).

Plant care:

This tree is tolerant of urban conditions.  Do not prune elm trees between mid-April and mid-October.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

Elm yellows and elm leaf miner are possible problems, but this species shows good resistance to Dutch elm disease, elm leaf beetle and Japanese beetle.

Allee® lacebark elm (Ulmus parvifolia ‘Emer II’):

This cultivar is more vase-shaped than the species and has distinctive, attractive, peeling bark characteristics.  It is highly resistant to Dutch elm disease and elm leaf beetle and has dark green leaves that turn light yellow in fall.

Athena® lacebark elm (Ulmus parvifolia ‘Emer I’):  

This cultivar has a rounded shape, with dark green foliage and limited fall color, but does have distinctive peeling bark.  It is highly resistant to Dutch elm disease and elm leaf beetle.


Your support is vital to the Arboretum, where the power of trees makes a positive impact on people’s lives.

Make a gift