Siberian elm is a large deciduous tree. It grows up to 70 feet in
height and has a rounded crown of slender, spreading branches.
Siberian elm closely resembles native elms such as American elm (Ulmus
and slippery elm (Ulmus
except that the leaves are typically smaller than native elm leaves,
and the leaf bases are typically symmetrical whereas the leaf bases
of native elms tend to be unequal and the leaf margins doubly
serrated. The leaf buds of Siberian elms are rounded and blunt,
whereas native elm buds are more conical and pointed in shape.
Flowering and seeding are typical of the elm family, with
wind-pollinated flowers producing large amounts of papery, circular
shaped samaras in early spring.
Northern China, eastern Siberia, Manchuria and Korea
Dry to mesic soils in open areas and on stream banks. It will
establish itself wherever there is a soil disturbance and seed can
be carried there by wind or water. Not highly tolerant of shade, but
seedlings are fast growing and soon overtop slower growing species
in open to partially shaded areas.
Siberian elm seedlings are very fast growing and competitive
compared to native tree seedlings. This tree produces a huge amount
of seeds in spring, and the aggressive growing seedlings soon shade
the ground under them and take all space available to native tree
species. This tree is very dangerous to riparian habitats where rare
plant diversity is at great risk of invasion from this tough
This tree occurs in 43 states and is considered invasive in 25
states. Early seed drop gives this tree the advantage of reaching
bare soil early in the growing season and getting a jump on the
native trees that seed later in the spring. Often forms thickets,
taking up all available sunlight and shading out native plants.
Recommended Native Alternatives
Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)
These pages are designed to give the
layperson a general overview of non-native invasive plants commonly
found in the upper Hiwassee River watershed. For more comprehensive
and technical information about a particular species, visit one of
the web sites from our