Garden Detective: Elm trees

Published: Saturday, Jul. 27, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 7CALIFORNIA LIFE

The elm trees in east Sacramento, particularly between Folsom Boulevard and T Street, are amazing. They appear to be different than the elms downtown; whereas those are much taller and more stately, the ones in east Sacramento have a broader canopy and darker bark, and the branches twist and bend in an almost sinister way.

Long ago, a resident of the area told me they were indeed a different variety and they were less susceptible to Dutch elm disease. I would like to know more about this variety and where I can get one to plant in my own yard.

Your expertise and information would be greatly appreciated.

– Robert Cortvriendt, Sacramento

According to UC master gardener Carol Hunter, your description of elm trees in the vicinity of Folsom Boulevard was useful in making an identification.

The trees are most likely the Siberian elm (Ulmus pumila). There is a helpful resource in identifying the tree – the website of the Sacramento Tree Foundation ( The website identifies five varieties of elm that grow in Sacramento.

In addition, the Sunset Western Garden Book describes several varieties. Take a look at these sources for further identification.

There are cautionary observations about the Siberian elm that need to be mentioned. The Siberian elm is not recommended for the Sacramento region, although it does grow here. In addition, the Siberian elm has certain characteristics to consider before you decide about planting one.

The tree is fast-growing, has weak crotches, a troublesome root system and seeds that disperse widely producing many seedlings. Due to aggressive surface roots, it is difficult to grow other plants under the tree. Dutch elm disease remains a consideration as well.


Questions are answered by master gardeners at the UC Cooperative Extension services in Sacramento and Placer counties.

Send questions to Garden Detective, P.O. Box 15779, Sacramento, CA 95852. Send email to h& Please put "Garden Detective" in the subject field and include your postal address. To contact your UC Extension directly, call:

• Sacramento: (916) 875-6913; 9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. weekdays

• Amador: (209) 223-6838; 10 a.m.-noon Monday through Thursday; email

• Butte: (530) 538-7201; 8 a.m.-noon and 1-5 p.m. weekdays

• El Dorado: (530) 621-5512; 9 a.m.-noon weekdays

• Placer: (530) 889-7388; 9 a.m.-noon on Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays or leave a message and calls will be returned

• Nevada: (530) 273-0919; 9 a.m.-noon Tuesdays through Thursday or leave a message

• Shasta, Tehama, Trinity: (530) 225-4605

• Solano: (707) 784-1322; leave a message and calls will be returned

• Sutter, Yuba: (530) 822-7515; 9 a.m.-noon Mondays and Tuesdays and 1-4 p.m. Thursdays

• Yolo: (530) 666-8737; 9-11 a.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, or leave a message and calls will be returned

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