Ulmus parvifolia
Family: Chinese Elm

Ahinese Elm is one of the best street tree selections for south-eastern Australia because of its eventual size, tolerance of urban sites and rapid growth. Some trees have exceptional bark that is a mottled orange-brown peeling in small patches. U. parvifolia is semi-deciduous and will lose its foliage in colder areas of Victoria such as Ballarat.

Although U. parvifolia is an excellent tree, the variability of seedling stock can be seen in many streetscapes. Seed-grown trees can be misshapen, and will not necessarily fulfill the role chosen for them. Trees budded onto understocks will give a more uniform tree, and can be managed more efficiently. Cutting-grown trees maintain clonal stability, but can be slow to establish because of a less-vigorous root system. Metropolitan Tree Growers grow budded Chinese Elms only. The typical selection we grow is budded from a tree in the Maroondah Reservoir Park. This tree has fairly upright growth, excellent form and remains fully evergreen in all but the coldest Victorian sites. It has slightly rough bark, but the bark will not become deeply fissured with age. This selection is a high-standard tree for streetscapes and shows the best attributes of this species.

U. parvifolia can develop more than 1 dominant leader when young, making it difficult to manage in the streetscape. Purchase only trees with a single leader to prevent high maintenance costs later in the landscape.

‘Burnley Select’

An upright form selected by Dr Peter May as a seedling taken from a mature tree at Burnley College. This budded elm will should be a narrow-spreading tree with good, upright branch attachment. The original tree, now 20 years old in Kyneton Victoria, is about 12m tall and 6m broad. Unlike many other upright selections of U. parvifolia, this tree seems to have little included bark. The trunk is starting to gain a handsome, russet colour.


This selection, from Yarralumla Nursery in the ACT is a broad, weeping form of U. parvifolia. We expect that it will become a tree to become just over 10 metres tall and equally as broad.

Typical mature height: 13m

Useful in: all areas 

Sites for best growth: fortnightly summer irrigation