Ulmus americana

American Elm

 

Wheatland (Tanger Arboretum), 1120 Marietta Avenue, Lancaster PA (behind President Buchanan’s home)

Jeff Hazlett

 

Now deceased, this tree had the perfect vase-shape of American Elms. Its trunk circumference at 4.5 feet up was approximately 13’ 6”. Most leaves were dead by July 2018 and the tree had succumbed to Elm Yellows Disease by early 2019.

Elm Yellows is spread by leafhoppers and is very aggressive with no known cure.  Infection and death of the tree's phloem girdles the tree and stops the flow of water and nutrients.  Even collections of elms that had been carefully managed against Dutch Elm Disease (e.g., at Cornell and Penn State) have been destroyed by Elm Yellows.

The death of this stately tree, prominently situated at the home of President James Buchanan, was a real loss. But plans are for its wood to be repurposed by Fritz Schroeder and Martin Stolpe for garden benches, bowls, and other woodcraft.

 

This amazing species has avoided obliteration by Dutch elm disease (in contrast to how blight has affected the American Chestnut) partly because the tree’s seeds are borne at a very young age, are spread widely by the wind, and germinate quickly to produce new, fast-growing trees.