Siberian elm leaves and fruit

Siberian elm (Ulmus pumila)

A fast growing tree that grows to be 50-70’ tall. The bark is gray-brown bark with furrows at maturity. Twigs and leaves are nearly hairless, with black hairs on the bud scales.

Current invasive species rule revisions propose to regulate this species as Restricted.

Overview

Regulated areas of Filipendula ulmaria
This species is proposed as Restricted (Orange counties)

Other names for this plant include:
  • Common names: littleleaf elm, dwarf elm
  • Scientific names: Ulmus campestris var. pumila; U. manshurica; U. turkestanica

Ecological threat:

  • Tolerates a wide variety of growing conditions including extreme temperatures, nutrient-poor soils and low moisture.
  • Can be found along roadsides, in pastures and grasslands, stream banks, and prairies.
  • Due to fast development and germination of seeds, dense thickets form rapidly, displacing native vegetation and reducing forage for native fauna.

Classification in Wisconsin: Restricted

Species Assessment Groups (SAG) were assembled to recommend a legal classification for each species considered for NR 40. The recommendation for Siberian elm was based upon this literature review developed by the department.

Identification

Leaves: Small (0.8-2.6” long), alternate, elliptical, smooth, singly-toothed leaves. The base of the leaves are tapered or rounded. Leaves can be slightly hairy when young. Mature leave are dark green and smooth above while pale and nearly hairless on the underside.

Flowers: Greenish, lack petals, and occur in small drooping clusters of 2-5. Flowers appear in spring before leaves unfold.

Fruits & seeds: Flat, circular, winged fruit (samaras) are deeply notched at the tip and contain one circular seed with a smooth surface; about ½” wide. Fruits develop quickly and are dispersed by the wind. Seeds germinate quickly.

Similar species: American elm (Ulmus americana) and slippery elm (U. rubra) have twice-serrate leaves that are over 2.8” long and are asymmetrical at the base of the leaf. Chinese elm (Ulmus parviflora) flowers in late summer or fall and the apex and teeth of leaves are less sharply acute.

Distribution

Known county distribution of Siberian elm
Counties in WI where Siberian elm has been reported (as of July 2011). Both vouchered and unvouchered reports included.

Do you have Siberian elm in your county but it isn't shaded on the map? Send us a report.

Control

Mechanical:

  • Pull seedlings by hand; Small trees can be removed with a hoe or a weed wrench.
  • Fire can also be used in fire-adapted communities to control small trees only a few years old.
  • Girdling the trees in late spring to mid-summer when the bark peels away from the sapwood easily and the sap is flowing causes the tree to die slowly over the course of a few years and will not stimulate resprouts. The bark must be removed to just outside of the wood; if the tree is cut too deep, it will resprout.

Chemical:

  • Glyphosate may be used for cut-stem treatments and can be done in the fall or winter.

Photos

View Siberian elm pictures in our photo gallery!

Resources

Sources for content:

  • Czarapata, Elizabeth; Invasive Plants of the Upper Midwest: an illustrated guide to their identification and control. University of Wisconsin Press. 2005. Pg. 96-97

Links for More Information

Last revised: Monday December 02 2013