An American Elm and a Sad Story Barry Caselli
May 21, 2009

First let me tell you the story of this tree, so you aren't wondering.
A few years ago (I'd guess at least 3 or 4) there was an old farmhouse here, and this tree was in the front/side yard, along with many others. When the farmhouse was sold it was demolished. Along the road there was a row of trees, maybe London Planes or something. All of those were cut down. Then the site was prepared for a medical facility to be built, and they chose to save this particular tree, probably because of its size.
The following Spring after the site preparation was done the tree started to die, little by little. After the house was demolished I was worried about the tree, hoping they would be careful around it, but once the tree started to die, I knew they were not careful.
For all these years I've been curious was kind of tree this was, since it didn't look familiar as I drove by it every day. So yesterday I decided to stop by and walk up to the tree and check it out. As you'll see in at least one picture, it's obvious why the tree is dying. They dug down with their heavy machinery, lowering the ground level by 2 to 3 feet, stopping about 4 or 5 feet from the tree trunk, destroying many, many roots in the process. Yet they built a little fence around it. I don't get it. The contractors signed this tree's death warrant, but then the tennants of the building put a fence around it. Go figure. Also, after it started dying, they had the tree cut way back, thinking that might help it. That's why you see it cut back so much. The loss of this tree is a small tragedy. I kind of doubt it will survive many more years.
My pictures show the whole tree, plus closeups of the bark, plus a closeup of the leaves on one of the suckers growing from the exposed roots. So with these pictures, can anyone identify the species? By the way, I estimate the CBH to be in the 11 to 12 foot range, easily.
P.S.- This is in Galloway Township, NJ, near where I work.


It is an American elm (Ulmus americana). Perhaps this elm has been hit by Dutch Elm Disease (DED), the reason for the heavy pruning, and has some historic significance to the site (?)

Steve Springer

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