Oregon is a state that is home to a wide variety of trees. One of these types of trees is the elm tree. Elm trees are deciduous and semi-deciduous. They originated in central Asia but are now found throughout most of the Northern Hemisphere. Elms are found in many natural forests but are also used in ornamental gardens and as street trees. They can reach great widths and heights.
But not every variety of elm tree grows well in Oregon due to their specific needs and growing conditions. Here are five varieties of elm trees that are great for an Oregon yard.
1. American Elm
It may be the state tree of both Massachusetts and North Dakota, but the American elm, known scientifically as Ulmus americana, can grow in Oregon too, as they grow in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 2 to 9. American elms can reach heights of 60 to 90 feet, making it a tall shade tree. It also can reach widths of 40 to 75 feet, which makes it a great canopy tree as well. These trees should be planted where they can receive full sun exposure.
It’s important to note that the American elm has been a variety of elm species hit hard in recent years by Dutch elm disease. However, it has made a comeback in recent years, as horticulturists have developed cultivars to help this species better withstand the disease. These cultivars include ‘Jefferson’, ‘Lewis and Clark’, ‘Princeton’, and ‘Valley Forge’.
2. Cedar Elm
Known scientifically as Ulmus crassifolia, the cedar elm grows well in more urban areas. This is because it has a high tolerance for drought, pollution, and poor soil. Even though the native area for these trees is southern North America, the USDA Hardiness Zones for the cedar elm are 6 to 9. These trees grow to heights of 50 to 70 feet and should be planted in areas of full sun exposure. The cedar elm tree is also susceptible to Dutch elm disease.
One thing that differentiates this elm from other elm trees is that it has the smallest leaves of all the elm species. Additionally, despite being called the cedar elm, it doesn’t share any similarities with cedar trees. It received this name as it typically grows near cedar trees.
3. Chinese Elm
Don’t let its name fool you, as the Chinese elm, also known as Ulmus parvifolia, is found outside of China. It may be native to China, Japan, North Korea, and Vietnam, but it can grow in USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 9. While it prefers soil that is moist and well-drained, it can adapt to many different types of soil. Chinese elm trees can reach heights of 40 to 50 feet tall and thrive in an area with full sun exposure. It’s also a common choice for bonsai, as it can continue to grow well even when heavily pruned.
The shape of the Chinese elm helps it stand out, as it is rounder. The bark of these trees appears as though it’s exfoliating and can be found in shades of gray, brown, green, and orange.
4. European White Elm
In the United States, the European white elm tree is sometimes known as the Russian elm. Scientifically, both are referred to as Ulmus laevis. This variety of elm trees is fast-growing. They are native to central and southeast Europe as well as the Caucasus but can grow in USDA Zones 5 to 9. They are very tall trees, reaching heights of over 100 feet. European white elm trees have a crown that is broad, open, and oval in shape. These crowns eventually become rounder.
European white elm trees are commonly found along riverbanks, as they can withstand flooding and wet areas. This means that they are best planted in soil that is wet and in areas that receive full sun exposure. It can also be a victim of Dutch elm disease, however, the elm bark beetle (which is what helps spread this disease) does tend to avoid this species of elm trees more than others.
5. Slippery Elm
The slippery elm tree, known scientifically as Ulmus rubra, does live up to its name, as a sticky secretion is found in the inner bark of these trees. The inner bark is also red in color, and these trees have blooms that are reddish-green. They are native to central and southern US but can grow in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 9. They are medium-sized deciduous trees, growing to about 40 to 60 feet tall. The shape of these trees can range from a vase shape to broader and rounder.
The slippery elm tree should be planted in areas that receive full sunlight. They are susceptible to both Dutch elm disease and phloem necrosis.
Choosing Your Elm Tree
As you can see, despite elm trees not being native to Oregon, there are still quite a few varieties of elm trees that can grow here. However, if you’re looking for an elm tree to grow in your yard, it’s still important to do further research. Just because the above-mentioned five tree varieties can grow in Oregon doesn’t mean that they will all thrive in your yard. You also must know the type of soil and sun exposure your yard has. Additionally, it’s important to take note of the size of the variety of elm trees you are looking into and to make sure that your yard has enough room for them.
If you aren’t sure, reaching out to a local arborist like Mr. Tree is a good idea. Our professional arborists can assist and guide you to make sure the type of elm tree you’re interested in will grow well in your yard’s conditions. Plus, we can help you with the maintenance and keep an eye out for issues such as Dutch elm disease to help mitigate that risk.
Give your elm sapling the best care possible and give Mr. Tree a call today. We can provide you with a personalized plan to make sure your elm tree is healthy from the moment it’s planted.