Ulmus ‘Frontier’ is one of the vigorous new elms developed by the US National Arboretum that are slowly finding their way into gardens all across the world. It is a cross of Smooth leafed elm (Ulmus minor), a native of Europe, and Lacebark elm (Ulmus parviflolia), a native of China. It is a medium sized elm that only reaches 25 feet tall but has a spread of 20 feet. Those proportions mean two things: it is a viable choice for under utility lines and it makes plenty of shade. But more importantly it is also highly resistant to Dutch elm disease and moderately resistant to Elm leaf beetle. Add to that drought resistance and adaptability to urban conditions and this becomes one of the most versatile trees available.
In beauty it is as impressive as it is practical. The small leaves are a lustrous dark green and cast a dappled shade. The bark is smooth, grey-green, with orange lenticels. But, by far, its best characteristic is its fall color, which is rich purple-red and this is the only elm on the market with such a red fall color.
'Frontier' elm tolerates acid to neutral soil as long as it's well drained, and prefers full sun. It grows across most of the US, in all but the coldest and the hottest extremes. It does well in the UK and New Zealand and is well-suited to Australia. As usual, this special tree will not be found in the popular landscape nurseries but more likely in a specialty, mail-order, plant nursery.

Frontier elm


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