Neighborhood flora: Chinese elms

Along Homer Avenue in Palo Alto, half a block south of my house, the street trees are mostly Chinese elms. In particular, the north side of the block from Ramona (my street) to Emerson (the Whole Foods street), it’s all Chinese elms, six of them. Here’s the one across Emerson from Whole Foods, in front of 201 Homer:


An excellent street tree, both pretty and tough, especially satisfying in hot and/or dry areas. Here you can see the interesting mottled bark.

Briefly from Wikipedia:

(#2) A Chinese elm in Tucson AZ

Ulmus parvifolia, commonly known as the Chinese elm or lacebark elm, is a species native to eastern Asia, including China, India, Taiwan, Japan, North Korea, and Vietnam. It has been described as “one of the most splendid elms, having the poise of a graceful Nothofagus“.

More detail from the Missouri Botanical Garden site:

(#3) Flowers and leaves

Ulmus parvifolia, commonly called Chinese elm or lacebark elm, is a medium-sized deciduous tree that typically grows to 40-50’ (less frequently to 70’) tall with a rounded crown and long pendulous branching. It is native to China, Korea and Japan. It is noted for its excellent foliage, multi-colored bark, rapid growth and good resistance to Dutch elm disease. Insignificant, small … flowers appear in late summer. Flowers give way to single-seeded wafer-like samaras (each tiny seed is surrounded by a flattened circular papery wing) that mature in fall. Elliptic to ovate, shiny dark green leaves (to 3” long) have small teeth. Leaves typically turn an undistinguished dull yellow in fall, but sometimes produce more interesting yellows or reddish-purples. One of the most ornamental features of this tree is its mottled bark.

The local trees are about to bloom. As you might suspect, or fear, from a plant with very small flowers, its pollen is seriously allergenic. Nothing without a cost.

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