How to identify an elm tree

Elms are one of the most commonly seen street trees in Alberta municipalities and on farm shelterbelts.

Report all suspect infected trees immediately to the STOPDED Hotline at 1-877-837-ELMS (3567)

Annual pruning ban in effect: April 1 to September 30


American elm (Ulmus americana) is not native to Alberta and has been planted in our communities for hundreds of years. It is often seen arching over the streets and has a distinctive umbrella-like canopy (Figure 1).

Siberian elm (Ulmus pumila) is not native to Alberta and is much less susceptible to DED. This species is similar to the American elm, but the leaves are smaller and it is known for its delicate, wispy branches and heavy seed crops (Figure 2).


American elms have tall, straight trunks. Branches start high and grow upward to form an arching shape like a vase or umbrella. Siberian elm can have a variety of forms, depending on location and pruning, ranging from a shrubbery hedge to a single tree similar to the American

Figure 1. American elm. Credit: Steven Katovich,

Photo of an American elm tree

Figure 2. Siberian elm. Credit: Patrick Breen, Oregon State University

Photo of a Siberian elm tree


Oval or egg-shaped with a pointed tip. The leaf has double-serrated leaf margins (meaning the ‘teeth’ have ‘teeth’). The leaf base where it connects to the stem is asymmetrical. Elm leaves are dark green, up to 9 centimetres (3.5 inches) long and 2.5 to 5 cm (1 to 2 inches) wide. The underside of the leaf is rough because of raised veins.

Figure 3. American elm leaf shape. Credit: Paul Wray, Iowa State University,

Photo of an American elm leaf shape

Figure 4. Siberian elm leaf shape. Credit: Patrick Breen, Oregon State University,

Photo of a Siberian elm leaf shape


Alternate arrangement, brown and pointed.


Deeply grooved in older trees and silver grey in color. Can often be easily broken off to observe alternating red and cream ‘wafers’ in cross-section.

Figure 5. American elm bark. Credit: Kathy Smith, Ohio State University Extension,

Photo of American elm bark

Figure 6. Siberian elm bark. Credit: John M. Randall, The Nature Conservancy,

Photo of a Siberian elm bark


See all DED forms and documents.


To report suspect DED symptoms or for more information, call:
STOPDED Hotline 1-877-837-ELMS (3567)

For DED compliance and enforcement issues, contact your local municipality or Agricultural Fieldman.