Attractive bark is a feature of trees that really comes into its own in winter, especially with deciduous trees. We often don’t pay it enough attention, yet when we meet trees with especially handsome bark, we never fail to find them attractive and appealing. It is always good to choose a tree with extra features, and while fall color is top of everyone’s list, bark often gets overlooked. Don’t make that mistake with your tree choice, and instead give the Lacebark Elm a considered look. No, it isn’t affected by the deadly Dutch Elm Disease, or by leaf beetles, so it is a serious contender for that tree you have been looking for.
Growing Lacebark Elm Trees
The Lacebark Elm is a deciduous shade tree, growing one or two feet a year to reach 35 to 40 feet tall, with a crown spread of 20 to 35 feet. That full, rounded crown throws a good area of shade, and this tough tree is especially useful in urban gardens, because it really takes well to that tough environment. The leaves are 1 to 2½ inches long, and they are neat ovals, with noticeable teeth along the edges (but not spiny). The leaves have a solid, leathery texture, and a shiny surface. In summer they are a rich, deep green, turning yellow to burgundy in fall, making a good display. But it is the bark we are here for, and it certainly is splendid. Once your tree has matured a little the gray bark begins to flake and peel in irregular shapes. These reveal the underlying bark, which is cream, orange, brown and green, making a beautiful patchwork, or lacy, effect. Flowers are insignificant, and they are reddish-green, and hidden among the leaves. A small winged seed develops in fall.
Planting and Initial Care
Grow the Lacebark Elm as a shade tree on a lawn, or as an avenue lining a long driveway. Plant a row along your property line or use it as a screen – it trims well – to hide a bad view or give you privacy. Plant it among existing trees in a wooded area, where its ability to grow in partial shade will allow it to fill in spaces among much older trees. It also makes a great subject for bonsai, with its neat foliage and handsome bark. With ‘oriental credentials’ it looks good in Asian-style gardens, a style that is always popular. When planting consider the final spread of the crown, and plant at least 15 feet away from walls, buildings, windows, and other potential obstructions. Don’t plant it beneath overhead wires, as the last thing you want it to see its graceful branches removed for safety. Always take your time choosing the right spot for a tree. After all, it is going to be with you for a long time, and it deserves careful placement.
For urban settings, the Lacebark Elm is hard to beat. some shade is almost inevitable in an urban garden, and thankfully this tree grows in both full sun and partial shade. It will grow in almost any soil. Although it prefers rich, well-drained soils, it is very adaptable and is perfectly happy to be in wetter or drier soils, too. As for hardiness, this tree is good anywhere from zone 4 to zone 9, so that covers almost all the country. What makes it an especially great choice is that, although an elm tree, it is not affected by Dutch Elm Disease, which devasted elm planting all across the country, last century. It is also safe from leaf beetles and the nasty Japanese beetle too. Diseases usually don’t cause any problems, and this trouble-free tree needs nothing special. If you want to use it for screening, it trims well, and it can be grown as a large hedge. To enjoy the bark at its best, trim up the lower branches early in its life, to reveal a nice tall trunk. By doing it early you won’t be left with unsightly scars, as this will be quickly covered by the expanding diameter of the growing trunk. A tall trunk will really show off the bark, and why waste a great feature?
History and Origins of Lacebark Elm Trees
The Lacebark Elm, Ulmus parvifolia, grows wild all through south-east Asia, from China, Taiwan, Japan, and North Korea, down into northern Vietnam. Prized for its graceful form, it is sometimes called Chinese elm. This is an unfortunate name, as it is a name also used for the Siberian elm, Ulmus pumila. Don’t confuse the two, as the Siberian Elm has a justified reputation as a weedy, much inferior tree that you may have already learned to avoid. For this reason, the name Lacebark Elm is much better. This confusion may account for the relative scarcity of this tree in home gardens, although it is widely used by knowledgeable landscapers and city parks, as specimen trees, and as a street tree. That should tell you that the Lacebark Elm is a great urban choice. Our trees are grown from seed taken from parent trees with good form and tough genes, so you get the best. Everyone loves beautiful tree bark, so these trees will soon be gone. Order now, while our stock lasts.