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Lacebark elm

Lacebark elm has an interesting, mottled bark.

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.

This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.

Botanical name:

Ulmus parvifolia

All common names:

Lacebark elm, Chinese elm

Family (English):


Family (Botanic):


Planting Site:

  • Residential and parks,
  • City parkway,
  • Wide median,
  • Restricted sites

Tree or Plant Type:

  • Tree


  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)

Native Locale:

  • Non-native

Landscape Uses:

  • Parkway/street,
  • Shade tree,
  • Specimen

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


  • Dry sites,
  • Occasional drought,
  • Alkaline soil,
  • Clay soil,
  • Road salt

Acid Soils:

  • Tolerant

Alkaline Soils:

  • Tolerant

Salt Spray:

  • Moderately Tolerant

Soil Salt:

  • Tolerant

Drought Conditions:

  • Tolerant

Poor Drainage:

  • Tolerant

Ornamental Interest:

  • Fall color,
  • Attractive bark

Seasons of Interest:

  • early winter,
  • midwinter,
  • late winter,
  • early fall,
  • mid fall,
  • late fall

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Inconspicuous

Shape or Form:

  • Round

Growth Rate:

  • Moderate

Transplants Well:

  • Yes


  • Migrant birds

More Information:

Tree & Plant Care

Tolerant of urban conditions.  Do not prune elm trees between mid-April and mid-October.

Disease, pests, and problems

Elm yellows and elm leaf miner are possible problems.

Disease, pest, and problem resistance

This species shows good resistance to Dutch elm disease, elm leaf beetle and Japanese beetle.

Native geographic location and habitat

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

Alternate, simple leaves that have the typical shape of an elm leaf, but are smaller than most elm species (3/4 to 2 inches long).  Toothed leaf margins. 
Dark green in summer, changing to yellow and reddish purple in fall.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Inconspicuous; 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).

Cultivars and their differences

Allee® lacebark elm (Ulmus parvifolia 'Emer II'): More vase-shaped than the species.   Distinctive, attractive, peeling bark characteristics.  Highly resistant to Dutch elm disease and elm leaf beetle.  Dark green leaves turn light yellow in fall.

Athena® lacebark elm (Ulmus parvifolia 'Emer I'):  Rounded shape, with dark green foliage and limited fall color.  Distinctive peeling bark.  Highly resistant to Dutch elm disease and elm leaf beetle.

Location of Ulmus parvifolia (Lacebark elm) at the Arboretum