Nikko Elm – Ulmus laciniata

Nikko Elm – Ulmus laciniata var. ‘nikkoensis’

Nikko Elm foliage and bark

These are the leaves of the Nikko Elm, Ulmus laciniata var. ‘nikkoensis’. This photo was used by Dr. Andrew Hipp, Plant Systematist and Herbarium Curator at The Morton Arboretum, in his paper “Evaluating the taxonomy of elms (Ulmus) using DNA sequence data“. [2]

Nikko Elm23-year-old Nikko Elm

Family Ulmaceae – Zelkova, Hackberry, Elm
Named for the Nikko National Park near the city of Nikko, 125 km north of Tokyo.

‘The (DNA sequence of) Japanese endemic Ulmus laciniata var. nikkoensis comes out among two accessions of U. davidiana var. japonica. This entity is a local form collected near Nikko in central Honshu, Japan.

The variety may represent a solitary hybrid between U. laciniata and U. davidiana var. japonica (G. Ware, pers. comm.); as the plants grown in the U.S. all appear to be progeny of a single (1925) introduction, the Nikko elm may be better thought of as a cultivar than as a true variety; additional fieldwork will be needed to assess this. Our finding that this plant falls among the U. davidiana var. japonica accessions in the cpDNA tree supports the argument that one of its parents is U. japonica, despite the horned appearance of the leaves, which suggest the influence of U. laciniata.’ [2]

Nikko Elm Bark


  1. Flora of China, Ulmus laciniata
  2. Andrew Hipp, Linus Gog, Jaime A. Weber, Alicia B. Geisler, Evaluating the taxonomy of elms (Ulmus) using DNA sequence data
  3. Morton Arboretum accession 180-84*1 photos by Bruce Marlin

There are about 200 species of trees and shrubs in Ulmaceae. Elms fell victim to Dutch Elm disease during the 1950s; until that time, they were the premier shade tree along the streets of our American towns and cities. The Morton Arboretum in past years has bred and marketed five new elm varieties resistant to Dutch elm disease.

Family Ulmaceae – Zelkovas, Hackberries and Elms
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Online since 2002