Content Detail

Siberian elms have invasive traits that enable them to spread aggressively. While these trees have demonstrated invasive traits, there is insufficient supporting research to declare them so pervasive that they cannot be recommended for any planting sites. Review of risks should be undertaken before selecting these trees for planting sites.

  • Family (English) Elm
  • Family (botanic) Ulmaceae
  • Tree or plant type Tree
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Large tree (more than 40 feet)
  • Mature height 50-70 feet
  • Mature width 40-50 feet
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, 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, Occasional flooding, Wet sites
  • Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous
  • Shape or form Round
  • Growth rate Fast
  • Transplants well No
  • Planting considerations Aggressive, Highly susceptible to ice damage, Weak wood and branch structure
  • Wildlife Migrant birds
  • Has cultivars Yes

Native geographic location and habitat: 

Siberian elm is native to Siberia, China, and Korea.

Bark color and texture: 

The gray bark is ridged and furrowed.

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

Oval, pointed leaves have toothed margins. Leaves are 1 to 3 inches long and fairly equal at the base (compared to other elms). Leaves are dark green in summer, changing to dull yellow or yellow-green in fall.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size: 

Inconspicuous flowers bloom in early spring.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions: 

Seed forms in a small oval samara (seed case with wings for wind dispersal).

Plant care:

Do not prune elm trees between mid-April and mid-October. Aggressive spreader through seedlings due to a high rate of seed germination. 

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances: 

This species has brittle branches and is prone to breaking apart in storms. Highly susceptible to elm leaf beetles. Additional problems include cankers, scale insects, borers, and leaf spots. Resistant to Dutch elm disease.


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