History of the Elm    Lisa Bozzuto
   Sep 28, 2003 06:21 PDT 

"     By the 19202's the tree had become an almost universal element of the American urban landscape. A survey in 1937 revealed that more than 25million American elms embowered the cities, towns and suburbs of the nation. Sacramento had as many elms as did New Haven Ct.; Dallas had six times as many elms as Boston and Dubuque, Iowa, had more elm trees than elm-rich Springfield, MA. Ulmus americana had truly become worthy of the name. Collectively, America's elms formed the most expansive urban forest ever planted, a verdant parasol soaring above the quotidian, casting it in a dappled and flattering light. And in the process, the trees defined one of America's most storied and archetypal places - Elm Street"

     from Republic of Shade; New England and the American Elm
             Thomas Campanella. Yale University 2003
Re: History of the Elm    dbhg-@comcast.net
   Sep 28, 2003 07:04 PDT 

Hey Lisa:

   Great post! How inspiring. Please give us more. Snippits like the one you
just posted really boost the spirits. It's what ENTS is all about.

   For the rest of you, Lisa Bozzuto is one of the Tree Amigos here in
Massachusetts. She and Susan Benoit are the lead researchers in MTSF and are
the ones doing all the tree tagging, circumference measuring, and mapping. When
we're all together as a group, Lisa and Susan point John, Gary, Howard, and
myself at trees to height measure and away we go. The lady Tree Amigos are the
true spirit of the forest.

RE: History of the Elm    Gary Beluzo
   Sep 28, 2003 13:23 PDT 
I can’t help but wonder if the “urban forest” species of one played a part
in the demise of the American Elm, monocultural environments are much less
resistant to environmental insults than complex dynamic systems.


Re: History of the Elm    Thomas Diggins
   Sep 28, 2003 16:20 PDT 

Our findings in Zoar seem to support your contention. American elm
(definitively ID'd) constitute about 1% of Zoar Valley's streamside
terrace forests in terms of basal area. Canopy-grown giant trees are
found in four different locales. I don't think this is a case of
coincidentally resistant trees - I think it's a result of the total lack
of anthropogenic disturbance, and the vigorous and diverse forest in
which these trees grow. Just one more value of old growth.


RE: History of the Elm    Gary Beluzo
   Sep 28, 2003 17:22 PDT 

That’s really interesting Tom. Do you see any evidence of the Dutch Elm
Disease in the elms?

Re: History of the Elm   Lisa Bozzuto
  Sep 28, 2003 18:10 PDT 

     "If architectural ruins of great age were scarce in America, those of
natural origin were in great abundance. Nature would supply the very "class
of objects" necessary to endow the landscape with temporal depth. New
England was among the first regions of America to be settled by Europeans,
and it was one of the first to seek in the landscape affirmation of its
historical identity. New Englanders turned to the elms the founding
generation had planted or spared when clearing the land. The young nation
might have no piles of marble, but it certainly had its "old Titans" - trees
that were of prodigious antiquity, or at least it appeared that way.......
     But even if an elm was in truth no aged relic, it could very well
appear to be - and that was usually good enough. The American Elm is a
fast-growing tree that achieves "scale" quickly and often looks much older
than it actually is. In as little as a century an elm could achieve height
and massiveness enough to be taken for a tree twice its age.
     In the early 19th century, Americans hungered for artifacts that would
grant them a sense of historical legitimacy. The early maturity of the elm
was particularly useful in this regard, for even a relatively young elm
could impart to the landscape an air of antiquity. Oliver Wendell Holmes
understood the value of such trees in endowing upstart Yankee villages with
an element of age   . "A life of between 2 and 3 centuries seems a long one
in a new country like ours," he wrote, " and the old elm if often the most
ancient monument of a New England Village".
RE: History of the Elm   Joseph Zorzin
  Sep 29, 2003 05:06 PDT 
A few years ago I mentioned to Burl-belly about an elm I've been looking
at for 53 years, as it's across the street from my family home in Lee,
Mass. The street once had them on both sides from one end of the street
to the other. This is the last one.

After I told him about it, he raced over to measure it, as is his style-
not wanting any big tree to escape his measurements. I'm not sure what
the official size is, I think it's over 50" DBH.

I have 4 pictures of the tree in the following directory-

RE: History of the Elm   Joseph Zorzin
  Sep 29, 2003 05:13 PDT 
I forgot to mention that elm is my favorite species. It's vase like
shape really turns me on. The upper branches spread out like that
ancient mythological woman with snakes coming out of her head instead of
hair (can't remember her name).

And, there was that day in '69 when I looked up at this tree and those
upper branches really did look like living snakes waving in the wind,
though there was no wind. Back in the good old days. <G>

Joe Zorzin
RE: History of the Elm   Robert Leverett
  Sep 29, 2003 05:51 PDT 


   I think the mythical creature you were thinking about was Medusa. As
a young sprout, I loved Greek Mythology. Still do.

   Your description of the elm as Medusa-like is fascinating.
Henceforth, I don't think I'll ever be able to look up into the foliage
of an American elm again without picturing writhing snakes. Kind a neat
when you think about it.

RE: History of the Elm   Robert Leverett
  Sep 29, 2003 06:14 PDT 


   If the tree is important to someone and they want it in our database,
that's sufficient for us to record it. Our big tree database was
original intended to include several categories of trees. One category
was to be trees that have special emotional significance to their owners
or admirers. We realize that we could easily get overwhelmed by this
class, but so far it hasn't been a problem.

   In terms of girth and height, an elm of 90 feet is not unusual. In
Mass, elms over 100 feet are scare, but they do exist. I've measured
two. So, eighty feet would be in the very ordinary class based on height
alone. If the tree exceeds say 15 feet in circumference, then that would
be sufficient to make it of special interest to some of us on the
circumference alone measure.

   We have a 100-foot height x 12-foot circumference club here in the
Northeast. That combination seems to be worth experimenting with. Dale
Luthringer, Colby Rucker, Will Blozan, and I probably spend the most
time experimenting with combinations of measurements to create special

Of course there's nothing magic about any particular combination. It
is just a way to focus attention on special trees and their scarcity,
but we're mainly motivated by what happens to capture our fancy and
surprisingly small differences matter to us. This constantly surprises
other folks, who can't fathom why we care. But it is all in what
interests a person.

   For example, in the race for the National League batting
championship, Albert Pujols just edged out Todd Helton by fractions of a
point. Here I go again trying to remember off the top of my head, but I
think Pujols's average ended up at 0.3587 and Helton's was a hair behind
at 0.3584. So Pujols is declared the winner and Helton's extraordinary
season goes down as a mere footnote in the annals of baseball. Fractions
matter to us, so really do 80-foot elms. Measure away. We want to hear
about it, Russ.


Fores-@aol.com wrote:

Is an elm in excess of 80" DBH worth getting an accurate measurement of?

A property near one of my clients tracts has an exceptionally large elm
overtopping a 100+ year old log cabin.

Russ Richardson

RE: History of the Elm   Lee E. Frelich
  Sep 29, 2003 06:56 PDT 


My parents yard in Janesville, WI, had two elms, one 24' cbh, which died of
old age in about 1961, and another of 16' cbh, which had a crown that
covered a half acre and died of Dutch elm disease about 1970. Both were
open grown trees about 70-80 feet tall.

We also had a weeping willow started from a twig cutting that attained a
dbh of 45" in 23 years. There is no doubt that the loess soils (deep wind
blown silt from the edge of the glaciers) in southern WI can grow really
big trees.

Re: History of the Elm   Thomas Diggins
  Sep 29, 2003 07:27 PDT 
Hi Gary,

No sign of Dutch Elm to my untrained eye. For several years that I've
been watching them, the American elms leaf out fully, and produce steady
crops of seeds. No sign of early leaf loss or yellowing, and no loss of
bark, attack by fungi, etc. They appear to be very healthy trees.
Slippery elm is more abundant than American, and it leafs out a little
later. These also appear very healthy. Slippery is regenerating in a few
areas inside the closed canopy woodlands, but smaller American elms seem
to be confined to the river's edge.