What is a Siberian elm tree?


Quick Answer

The Siberian elm is the common name for the Ulmus pumila tree and is sometimes mistakenly referred to as the Chinese elm. It is native to parts of Eastern Asia, including northern China, eastern Siberia, the Koreas and Turkestan. It was introduced to the United States in the 1860s and is now classified as an invasive species in 25 states.

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Full Answer

The Siberian elm is a hardy, medium-sized tree with a rounded canopy, although in some parts of its native habitat it grows to over 70 feet tall. The largest Siberian elm ever recorded in the United States as of 2014, which was located in Michigan, grew to 146 feet tall and almost 19 feet in circumference with a crown spread of 112 feet.

The Siberian elm is resistant to Dutch elm disease but is vulnerable to other pests such as elm beetles and the canker disease Botryodiplodia hypodermia. Its branches are dry and brittle, and they break easily in storms or under the weight of snow and ice; its larger limbs may even split and break off from the trunk because of their own weight. Its seeds spread in the wind, and it propagates easily. In their native habitat, Siberian elms can live to be 150 years old, but in the United States, they live only 50 to 60 years.

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