Our Chinese elm is often the last tree to leaf out in spring. Luckily, they are also one of the few species of elm with a resistance to the lethal Dutch elm disease. Chinese elms grow quickly, and can reach upwards of 80 feet tall. Their crown of foliage has a broad, vase-like shape with beautiful drooping branches. The leaves are a glossy, dark green, and produce small flowers in the late summer. Blossoms are followed by green samaras (winged seed pods), which float from the tree on windy summer days.
In southern climates, Chinese elms do not shed their leaves, but in Madison Square Park their foliage turns shades of yellow in the fall. Their greenish-gray bark sheds to reveal subtle tones of orange and brown, adding interest to the park’s winter landscape. Because of their tolerance to pruning, Chinese elms are a popular choice for bonsai trees.