A small tree up to 60 ft high, with a slender trunk supporting a rounded head of branches; branchlets very slender, clothed with a close, minute, grey down; winter buds small, conical. Leaves leathery, 3⁄4 to 21⁄2 in. long, 1⁄3 to 11⁄3 in. wide, oval, ovate or obovate, unequally rounded at the base (or one side of the midrib tapered), pointed, the margins rather evenly toothed, the teeth triangular, often blunt, upper surface lustrous green, and smooth on the smaller twigs, rather rough on vigorous shoots, lower surface pale, bright green, with tufts of down in the vein-axils, or smooth; stalk 1⁄16 to 1⁄4 in. long, downy, veins in ten to twelve pairs. Flowers produced in September and October in the leaf-axils. Samaras ovate-oval, 1⁄3 in. long, not downy; seed in the centre.
Native of E. Asia, including Japan and much of China; introduced towards the end of the 18th century. This tree retains its leaves until the New Year quite fresh and green, and is well worth growing for its elegance. It is sometimes confused with U. pumila in gardens, but that species flowers in spring. From the other autumn-flowering elms, U. crassifolia and U. serotina, it is distinct in retaining its leaves so late, in the almost complete absence of down from beneath the leaves, and in their brighter smoother surfaces. Introduced in 1794.
cv. ‘Frosty’. – A dwarf, bushy shrub. Leaves small, densely set on the shoot, white-margined at first, finally white only on the teeth.