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Siberian elm (Not recommended)

A mature specimen of Siberian elm.

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.

Botanical name:

Ulmus pumila

All common names:

Siberian elm, Chinese elm, littleleaf elm

Family (English):


Family (Botanic):


Tree or Plant Type:

  • Tree


  • 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 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7,
  • Zone 8,
  • Zone 9

Soil Preference:

  • Moist, well-drained soil


  • Dry sites,
  • Occasional drought,
  • Wet sites,
  • Occasional flooding,
  • Alkaline soil,
  • Clay soil

Acid Soils:

  • Tolerant

Alkaline Soils:

  • Tolerant

Salt Spray:

  • Tolerant

Soil Salt:

  • Tolerant

Drought Conditions:

  • Tolerant

Poor Drainage:

  • Tolerant

Planting Considerations:

  • Aggressive,
  • Highly susceptible to ice damage,
  • Weak wood and branch structure

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Inconspicuous

Shape or Form:

  • Round

Growth Rate:

  • Fast

Transplants Well:

  • No


  • Migrant birds

More Information:

Tree & Plant Care

Do not prune elm trees between mid-April and mid-October.

Disease, pests, and problems

This species has brittle branches and is prone to breaking apart in storms.
Highly susceptible to elm leaf beetles.
Aggressive spreader through seedlings due to a high rate of seed germination.
Additional problems include cankers, scale insects, borers and leaf spots.

Disease, pest, and problem resistance

Resistant to Dutch Elm Disease.

Native geographic location and habitat

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 in early spring.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

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



Location of Ulmus pumila (Siberian elm (Not recommended)) at the Arboretum