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Siberian elm

Quick facts

Siberian elm is an invasive species.

  • Siberian elm is able to move into and quickly dominate disturbed prairies in just a few years.
  • It grows in areas with poor soils and low moisture.
  • Seed germination is high and it establishes quickly on sparsely vegetated soils.
  • It can cross pollinate with native elms, making identification difficult.
  • It is resistant to Dutch Elm disease.

Siberian elms should be reported. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources provides detailed recommendations for reporting invasive species.

How to identify Siberian elm

  • Deciduous tree, 30 to 70 feet high with an open, rounded crown and slender, spreading branches.

Stem

  • Bark is dark gray and shallowly furrowed on mature tree.

Branches

  • Thin, delicate-looking, silver-gray twigs have a zig-zag shape with a leaf bud at each turn.

Leaves

  • Alternate, small, 1–2 inches, elliptic, toothed, short-pointed tips and slightly uneven at the base.
  • Distinctly smaller size and much less uneven leaf base than American elm.

Flowers

  • Greenish, lacking petals and occurring in small, compact, drooping clusters of 2 to 5.
  • Appear before leaves develop.

Fruit and seeds

  • Winged, round, smooth fruit hangs in clusters.
  • Contains one seed.
  • Can be a prolific seed producer.
Siberian elm leaves
a cluster of light brown Siberian elm seeds
Siberian elm seeds

Roots

  • Extensive, shallow.
     

 

 

Angela Gupta, Extension educator; Amy Rager, Extension educator; Megan M. Weber, Extension educator

Reviewed in 2019

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