Caucasian Elm Identification

The Caucasian Elm Zelkova carpinifolia  is a species of Zelkova native to the Caucasus mountains of Iran, Turkey, Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. There are 6 species of Zelkovas in a genus closely related to the Elms. Each of these species has a very narrow geographical range, some in southern Europe and some in Asia.  Zelkova is the name for these trees in the Georgian language of the Caucasus. Mature elms have ridged bark – mature zelkovas have smooth bark. The Caucasian Elm was introduced to Britain in 1760. It is not common but, when fully grown, is a magnificent tree and is found in some large gardens and parks.

Caucasian Elm identification is by its oval blunt-toothed leaf, multi-stemmed bole and characteristic oval shape.


Tree in April

Mature tree in September, showing the unique oval shape of the tree resulting from scores of slender stems that curve outwards 1 to 3m above ground level and then grow upwards.

The oval coarse-toothed leaves have 6 to 12  blunt curved teeth.

The bark of mature trees is smooth with orange patches. The bole is made up of multiple stems that grow closely together and branch outwards at 1 to 3m from the ground.
Tiny, male flower buds emerging with the leaves in March. The tree is monoecious so flower buds may be male, female or bi-sexual on the same tree.

Close-up of the tiny, green flowers in April.

Fruit, just formed at the end of April.

Buds are small, red-brown and Elm-like. Close-up of terminal and lateral buds.