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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ulmus parvifolia - Chinese Elm

The lacebark elm, also called the Chinese elm is wonderful deciduous tree. Do not mistake it for the similar Siberian elm and its one of the reasons many use lacebark rather than Chinese. The form is truly beautiful with age, a bit gawky when young. You can see the weeping tendencies in the first picture and the awkwardness in the second. This a a fast growing tree, 30-50' tall and wide spreading, maybe even wider than tall. Forms a spreading to rounded crown with varying degrees of weeping branches or at least the end of the branches. Evergreen except in cold climates.

Leaves are alternate, simple, 1 to 2-1/2" long by about 1/2" wide, oblanceolate to elliptical, serrated margins, dark green upper surface and lighter  below. Leaf base is characteristic of elms, they are uneven or oblique. Not all plants with oblique bases are elms, but elms have oblique bases. Elms are also known for having stiff hairs on the upper surface making them fell like a 5 day beard. In areas where they are deciduous they can have nice red to yellow fall color.

Flowers are small, not likely noticed, and borne in the fall unlike other elms.

Fruit is a small round disk like fruit about 1/2" in diameter with a papery covering over the seed. Produced heavily in the fall.

Certainly one of the greatest attributes is the bark. These are planted nicely in a grove to show off the bark. The bark is orangish brown with lots of lenticles and peels off or sheds in small flakes.

Misidentification: The Siberian Elm, but the have very different bark, bloom in the spring, are weedy, and the leaves tend to be doubly serrated.

the grove shown is at 2701 Estates Dr, Aptos

Santa Cruz: 710 Mission St. is a really big one

17th heading towards the beach from Portola along the street at the Elementary School

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