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  • Writer's pictureKelly Robinson

Common Denver Trees: Elms

tips for Elm tree owners in Denver, Colorado
Siberian Elm and American elms are the most common here in Denver Colorado

The Siberian elm tree (Ulmus pumila) and the American elm tree (Ulmus americana) are both species of elm trees that are commonly found in Colorado. While they share some similarities, there are also some key differences between these two species of elms. In this article, we will discuss the differences between the Siberian elm tree and the American elm tree.

One of the main differences between these two species of elm trees is their size. The American elm tree can grow up to 120 feet tall while the Siberian elm tree typically grows to a maximum of 60 feet tall. Additionally, the American elm tree has a more upright growth habit and a wider canopy than the Siberian elm tree.

Another difference between these two species is their leaves. The American elm tree has larger leaves, typically 2-4 inches long and 1-2 inches wide, while the Siberian elm tree has smaller leaves, typically 1-2 inches long and 1-2 inches wide. The American elm tree also has a more uniform leaf shape while the Siberian elm tree has a more irregular leaf shape.

The American elm tree is also known for its disease resistance, it is resistant to Dutch Elm disease, which is a fungal disease that has killed many American elms in the past. On the other hand, the Siberian elm tree is known to be more resistant to pests and diseases, making it a more hardy and adaptable species.

Both species of elms have a similar root system, they have shallow roots that spread wide, which can cause damage to sidewalks, foundations and underground utilities if not properly maintained.

While the American elm tree and the Siberian elm tree share some similarities, they also have some key differences. American elm trees are taller, have larger leaves, and are resistant to Dutch Elm disease while the Siberian elm tree is more adaptable and resistant to pests and diseases. In the Denver metro the most common issues we see with American elms is that they all have problems with Elm Scale. Elm scale is a crustaician like creature what have grinding mandables what scrape the top layer of thin branches and eat away the vascular system on the ends of the branches and create alot of deadwood. This is treatable in the warmer months of when the scale are in the their crawling phase. The key problem Siberian Elms have is that the majority of them host a large population of Elm beetles that eat holes in the leafs. When you have a reduced leaf, you have reduced transporation( water from the ground getting into the canopy). In the heat of Colorado reduced transporation means the tree cannot cool itself and thus begins to dye or produce a heroic amount of deadwood...kinda the same thing.


Property owners should consult Colorado Premier Tree Care to determine which species of elm tree is best for their specific needs and to ensure proper maintenance is carried out on mature elms you may have in your yard.

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