Tree of the Month - Chinese Lacebark Elm

"Arboretums.....More Than Trees"

As we transition into fall the trees in the arboretum take on a new set of clothes and looks forward to a new purpose. We are seeing some tinges of color already and many of the birds that use the trees for habitation are flocking for the trip south.

The arboretum plays many different roles, one of which is an important source of protection and food source for wildlife. The Zoo grounds including the arboretum and botanical gardens have been re-certified as a "Natural Wildlife Habitat" by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). More about the certification is explained below. Enjoy the season !

Golden Rain Tree Follow-up.....


Last month we had an article on the Golden Rain Tree, a year one specimen, located in the Asian Garden Collection. We are happy to announce that the expected lanterns have appeared (see pic on left). The fruits which are inflated, papery, 3 part capsules are 1 1/4 to 2 1/2 inches long and form a distinctive Chinese lantern shape. They are green at first, turning lime yellow and then brown. They will persist through fall and into winter. In some parts of the world the Golden Rain Tree is considered invasive. Because of this many nurseries have opted not to market this tree and do not recommend it's planting.


" Little Gardens Follow-up "

Taylor's Garden located in the Asian Garden has proven to be a butterfly habitat this summer. The attraction of Oriental Glads, Chinese Forget-me-nots, Japanese Spirea and decorative Kale have been a pollinator source. The garden was part of the Faith Chapel volunteer night with the addition of new bark. It has since been cleaned and re-freshed. The Glads have been a bright addition this year and we look forward to next year's color additions. Thanks to arboretum volunteers, Linda S. and Nancy W, and the FC volunteers for their efforts.

At the same time the Tiger Garden received a re-fresh of new bark and weed control. This garden is anchored by two unique Russian Rock Birch with their paper bark and creamy color. 

And a huge thanks to the volunteers for their work pruning and thinning the Millennium Grove and raking and cleaning The Dell.


" Certified Wildlife Habitat "

As we stated above ZooMontana has been certified as a Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). The grounds provide the essential needs for wildlife:

food, water, cover, places to raise young

NWF Mission:

We believe America’s experience with cherished landscapes and wildlife has helped define and shape our national character and identity for generations. Protecting these natural resources is a cause that has long united Americans from all walks of life and political stripes. To hunters, anglers, hikers, birders, wildlife watchers, boaters, climbers, campers, cyclists, gardeners, farmers, forest stewards, and other outdoor enthusiasts, this conservation ethic represents a sacred duty and obligation to protect and build upon our conservation heritage for the sake of wildlife, ourselves, our neighbors, and—most of all—for future generations.

" Viburnums and Wildlife Food Source"

The arboretum is home to a great Viburnum collection. These specimens can be found throughout the arboretum and botanical gardens and are loaded with this year's crop of berries.  



Viburnum is a genus of about 150–175 species of flowering plants in the moschatel family Adoxaceae. Its current classification is based on molecular phylogeny. It was previously included in the honeysuckle family Caprifoliaceae.

If you are looking for a flowering shrub that will add beauty to your landscape, one of the popular viburnum shrubs may be a great addition.

Characteristics of Viburnum

Viburnums are placed in the Adoxaceae family, though they used to be in the Caprifoliaceae (honeysuckle) family. Members of this family are some of the relatively few kinds of trees and shrubs to feature opposite branching, which is useful for identification purposes. They can be either evergreen or deciduous, depending on the species and location where they are growing.

Many viburnums will put on a showy display, producing white (and sometimes tinged with pink) flowers in an arrangement called a corymb. Most species are dioecious (or at least functionally dioecious, meaning that cross-pollination with another variety or species is needed for pollination to occur) with a few being monoecious. If both sexes are present, the female flowers later produce drupes that are red, purple, blue, or black. Interestingly, some species are edible, while others are somewhat poisonous.

How to Care for Viburnum

When it comes to viburnum care, water shrubs during dry periods. It will also help to add mulch to retain moisture. You can apply a slow-release fertilizer to viburnums as well but this isn’t required.

In addition, pruning the shrub should be included with viburnum care. This is normally done for shaping purposes and to remove dead, diseased or broken branches from the viburnum shrub.


" Tree of the Month "

Chinese Lacebark Elm

A unique tree to Montana, the arboretum has two specimens located next to each other in the Waterways collection just south of the Badger habitat.



Grow in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerant of light shade. Prefers rich, moist loams. Adapts to a variety of different soils and tolerates both wet and dry sites. Generally tolerant of urban conditions.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Ulmus parvifolia, commonly called Chinese elm or lacebark elm, is a medium-sized deciduous tree that typically grows to 40-50’ (less frequently to 70’) tall with a rounded crown and long pendulous branching. It is native to China, Korea and Japan. It is noted for its excellent foliage, multi-colored bark, rapid growth and good resistance to Dutch elm disease. Insignificant, small, reddish-green flowers appear in late summer. Flowers give way to single-seeded wafer-like samaras (each tiny seed is surrounded by a flattened circular papery wing) that mature in fall. Elliptic to ovate, shiny dark green leaves (to 3” long) have small teeth. Leaves typically turn an undistinguished dull yellow in fall, but sometimes produce more interesting yellows or reddish-purples. One of the most ornamental features of this tree is its mottled bark. On mature trees, bark flakes to reveal patches of gray, cream, orange, brown and green.


Click above for video


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"The mission of the Yellowstone Arboretum is to cultivate arboreta appreciation and understanding of our local heritage through public education, organic preservation and stewardship of our natural environment."



Wednesday September 9


Bird Happy

During the month of September the arboretum, in keeping with this month's theme, will begin distribution of up to 20  donated bird feeders throughout the grounds to enhance the wild bird population during the winter months and early spring season. There are several different designs including squirrel-proof and squirrel happy. We will also install two hand-built Blue Bird houses donated by volunteer Lynne E. A Blue Bird pair was recently sighted behind the Tiger habitat. Also, regular sightings of Monarch butterflies have been witnessed throughout the arboretum this season. 


New Garden Start

With the help of the First Interstate Bank volunteer group 5 new conifers will be planted to start the North American Conifer Garden. Plantings will include a Subalpine Fir, Engelmann Spruce, Yukon Blue, Jack Pine and DeGroot's Arborvitae. Signage and landscaping will eventually be included. This garden is the result of a monetary donation from the Montana Nursery and Landscape Association


New Memorial Tree

Planting will commence the first week of September of an Eastern White Pine, memorial tree, which will be located in Bear Meadows. This will be the second Pinus strobus in the collection. A mature example can be found along the Birds of Prey/Lynx pathway on the south side.

Thank You

Once again a huge round of applause to the volunteers from Faith Chapel for their hard work not only in the arboretum but in the botanical gardens and across the Zoo grounds !


We have created some features on the website that may be worth investigating.



The new "Smart Tour"is on the arboretum website. This unique tour can be followed by visitors to the arboretum on their smart phone. The tour guides the visitor through different areas of the grounds highlighting selected trees and offering a "Did You Know" segment with some cool  information for each area!


Highlighting trees and plants with useful information about planting and Montana survival

Did You Know ?

Have you checked out the Yellowstone Arboretum Facebook page ?

Our page shares tree articles and videos of interest to arboreta enthusiasts as well as updated info from the arboretum.

CLICK HERE to find out more


You can follow the progress of the monthly climatic reports by clicking on the information below:


Readings are now recorded on a monthly basis instead of quarterly.

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