American elm (Ulmus Americana)

West of Old Main, north of Wilson Library Map

Many of these stately trees were planted west of Old Main and north of Wilson Library during the early decades of the school's history. The GPS location given below will lead you to a group of three immediately NW of the Bird Sanctuary. The lower photo, however, is of a tree near the library. The lopsided shape of the elm leaf will help you identify the proper trees.

Elm and chestnut trees were once the mainstay of eastern deciduous forests. Alas, both have been all but eliminated by introduced diseases. Chestnut blight is discussed elsewhere (see tree HC). Dutch elm disease (DED) is particularly lethal to New World elms. It consists of a fungal infection, spread by bark beetles. Despite its name, DED originated in Asia and was introduced into the United States about 1930 in a load of imported logs. (The name "Dutch Elm Disease" actually commemorates the place where the blight was first studied). To date DED has yet to appear on the west side of the Cascade Mountains, but gardeners here continually examine their trees with great anxiety. Once the disease arrives, the trees are doomed. Enjoy them while you can.

The American elm formerly was a favorite landscape tree, planted widely across North America. It is (or was) highly prized for its graceful, vase-like form. Elms in general also are a source of much prized decay-resistant wood; when wet elm wood lasts essentially forever. (Hollowed logs used as water pipes in Roman times are still in good shape). One use of elm wood is in the manufacture of coffins.