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Ulmus laciniata.jpg
Ulmus laciniata
Morton Arboretum acc. 180-84-1
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Rosales
Family: Ulmaceae
Mirb. 1815
Type species
L. 1753
Ulmaceae Distribution.svg
The range of Ulmaceae.
  • Samaracaceae Dulac

The Ulmaceae (/ʌlˈmsi/) are a family of flowering plants that includes the elms (genus Ulmus), and the zelkovas (genus Zelkova).[2] Members of the family are widely distributed throughout the north temperate zone, and have a scattered distribution elsewhere except for Australasia.[1][3]

The family was formerly sometimes treated to include the hackberries, (Celtis and allies), but analysis by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group members suggests that these genera are better placed in the related family Cannabaceae. The circumscription included in the taxobox is the one suggested by P. Stevens on his Missouri Botanical Garden Angiosperm Phylogeny Website and includes information from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Vascular Plant Families and Genera list.[3] It generally is considered to include ca 7 genera and about 45 species.[4] Some classifications also include the genus Ampelocera.[5]


The family is a group of evergreen or deciduous trees and shrubs with mucilaginous substances in leaf and bark tissue. Leaves are usually alternate on the stems. The leaf blades are simple (not compound), with entire (smooth) or variously toothed margins, and often have an asymmetrical base. The flowers are small and either bisexual or unisexual.[6] The fruit is an indehiscent samara, nut, or drupe. Ulmus provides important timber trees mostly for furniture, and U. rubra, the slippery elm, is a medicinal plant known for the demulcent property of its inner bark. Planera aquatica is also a timber species. Planera, Ulmus, and Zelkova are all grown as ornamental trees.


Modern molecular phylogenetics suggest the following relationships:[5][6][7][8][9]

Cannabaceae (outgroup)








  1. ^ a b Watson, L.; Dallwitz, M. J. (1992). "The Families of Flowering Plants: Ulmaceae Mirb". Retrieved 21 November 2006.
  2. ^ Denk, T; GW Grimm (February 2005). "Phylogeny and biogeography of Zelkova (Ulmaceae sensu stricto) as inferred from leaf morphology, ITS sequence data and the fossil record". Bot J Linn Soc. 147 (2): 129–157. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2005.00354.x.
  3. ^ a b Stevens, P (2001). "Angiosperm Phylogeny Website". Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved 21 November 2006.
  4. ^ Christenhusz, M. J. M. & Byng, J. W. (2016). "The number of known plants species in the world and its annual increase". Phytotaxa. 261 (3): 201–217. doi:10.11646/phytotaxa.261.3.1.
  5. ^ a b Ueda, Kunihiko; K Kosuge; H Tobe (June 1997). "A molecular phylogeny of Celtidaceae and Ulmaceae (Urticales) based on rbcL nucleotide sequences". Journal of Plant Research. 110 (2): 171–178. doi:10.1007/BF02509305.
  6. ^ a b Sytsma, Kenneth J.; Morawetz, Jeffery; Pires, J. Chris; Nepokroeff, Molly; Conti, Elena; Zjhra, Michelle; Hall, Jocelyn C. & Chase, Mark W. (2002), "Urticalean rosids: Circumscription, rosid ancestry, and phylogenetics based on rbcL, trnLF, and ndhF sequences", Am J Bot, 89 (9): 1531–1546, doi:10.3732/ajb.89.9.1531, PMID 21665755
  7. ^ Zavada MS, Kim M (1996). "Phylogenetic analysis of Ulmaceae". Plant Syst Evol. 200 (1): 13–20. doi:10.1007/BF00984745.
  8. ^ Neubig K, Herrera F, Manchester S, Abbott JR (July 7–11, 2012). Fossils, biogeography and dates in an expanded phylogeny of Ulmaceae. Botany 2012: Annual Meeting of the Botanical Society of America in Columbus, Ohio, USA. St. Louis, Missouri: Botanical Society of America. Abstract 316.
  9. ^ Sun M; Naeem R; Su J-X; Cao Z-Y; J. Burleigh G; Soltis PS; Soltis DE; Chen Z-D (2016). "Phylogeny of the Rosidae: A dense taxon sampling analysis". Journal of Systematics and Evolution. 54 (4): 363–391. doi:10.1111/jse.12211.