David Daehnke

United States

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Plant-of-the-Month for July

Eucommia ulmoides

Hardy Rubber Tree



native to central China hardy to zone 5, and warmer parts of 4

Habit and Form

a large, deciduous tree 40' to 60' tall width is greater than height rounded habit medium growth rate medium texture

Summer Foliage

alternate leaf arrangement simple, deciduous leaves 3" to 6" long 1.5" to 3" wide ovate leaf shape serrate leaf margins dark green leaf color rough texture rubbery substance when leaf is broken

Autumn Foliage

none, leaves fall green


dioecious no ornamental significance


brown, capsule-like with appressed wings looks like a large, plump, elm fruit 1.5" long notched apex 1 seed


ridge and furrowed gray-brown bark attractive branches end in leaf


easily transplanted soil tolerant full sun pH adaptable somewhat urban tolerant

Landscape Use

shade tree park tree for high quality foliage street tree


none serious

ID Features

imbricate, sessile buds no terminal buds ovate leaf shape with serrated leaf margin waxy substance when leaf is broken


by seed by cuttings



Although this tree may not seem to be something special or noteworthy, it is a great tree for areas that are not great for plants in the first place. The plant does produce rubber, but only a minor percentage and not worth production. It's leathery, shiny leaf is very attractive, and agaion can withstand the abuse of heavy street traffic. I had never known about this plant until this past May when my college Professor Richard Ray donated one to the Arboretum's Plant Auction, and I have been amazed that it is not more widely available on the market. As they say, seek and ye shall find and be rewarded with with an unusual, outstanding specimen tree.

Remember never to collect plants from the wild. Most reputable garden centers and catalog nurseries will be able to supply you with the plant you are looking for. If you have any questions about certain plants, feel free to e-mail me at plants@gardeningguru.org and I will answer your question as soon as possible!

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