Ulmus pumila L.

Siberian elm, dwarf elm
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Ulmus pumila
Elena Torres & Santiago Moreno
Licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

Ulmus pumila: Appearance of the tree in full fruiting stage, before the new leaves sprout

Appearance of the tree in full fruiting stage, before the new leaves sproutBranch with leaves that are elliptic, with a nearly symmetrical base and an acute apexBranch with proteranthous, non-showy flowers in dense clustersBranch with several samaras just about to be dispersed by the wind; the seed is at the centre of the samara

Ulmus: Ancient Latin name for elm tree

pumilus, -a, -um: dwarf, because of its relatively small size


Habit: Deciduous small to medium-sized tree c. 3-5 m tall (up to 25-30 m in its natural environment) with deeply fissured bark and pubescent twigs.

Leaves: alternate, deciduous, 2-7 cm long, simple, with caducous stipules and a short petiole 2-4 mm long; blade 2-3.5 cm wide, elliptic to slightly ovate, with a nearly symmetrical base and an acute to slightly acuminate apex; margins serrate; abaxial side smooth and dark green, with parallel lateral veins almost reaching the margin.

Flowers: proteranthous, hermaphrodite, actinomorphic, hypogynous, minute, not showy, subsessile in dense clusters; calyx gamosepalous, 4-5-lobed; stamens 4-8; gynoecium syncarpous, 2-carpellate, with a superior ovary.

Fruit: suborbicular samara 1-1.5 cm in diam., briefly stipitate, with just one seed in its centre.


It flowers at the end of winter, before the leaves sprout; fruits mature in spring.

Geographic origin

Native to C and E Asia (China, Siberia, Turkestan).


Most species of the genus Ulmus share the characteristic trait of having leaf blades with a clearly asymmetrical base. However, this trait is almost unnoticeable in U. pumila.

It is cultivated as a shade or ornamental tree, especially to replace the field elm (U. minor Mill.), heavily attacked by Ophiostoma ulmi (Buisman) Nannf., a fungus that causes Dutch elm disease, which U. pumila seems to be resistant to. It becomes naturalized easily.

It is easily propagated from semi-hardwood cuttings or seeds.

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