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 both 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 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), 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 winter, midwinter, late winter, early fall, mid fall, late fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous
  • Shape or form Round
  • Growth rate Moderate
  • Transplants well Yes
  • Wildlife Migrant birds
  • Has cultivars Yes

More Information

Native Geographic Location and Habitat

Lacebark elm 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 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  at only 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 and Seed Descriptions

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

Care Knowledge

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 a distinctive, attractive, peeling bark. 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.


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