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Fingers Crossed For American Elms

elm A diseased elm on the lawn of the John Brown House is scheduled for removal later this month. The Providence Journal has a much better photo by Bob Thayer (it is not easy taking a picture of these towering giants with a cheap camera). According to the article,

Ed Desjarlais, the buildings and grounds manager for the historical society, noticed the elm’s leaves turning brown; then branches, and eventually whole sections of the tree became discolored in the summer.

Dutch elm disease arrived in the 1930’s devastating elm populations in cities across the country (old pictures of Elmwood Avenue are heartbreaking). The disease is a fungus spread by the elm bark beetle; the fungus can also move across the underground root systems where they are in contact, taking out an entire stand in months. A few years ago the allée behind the Old State House on Benefit Street was wiped out in one summer; it has since been replaced with tulip poplars, another tall native, and one of George Washington’s faves (pic after jump). The main green at Brown University also has a great collection of carefully tended elms.

old state house

The tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) can grow over 150 feet tall; this stand behind the Old State House already looks beautiful. Ten resistant varieties of the American elm (Ulmus americana) are now available but can still become infected. Brown is trying out a resistant Homestead variety American elm near the Van Wickle gates.