The American Elm Tree Committee of the Men’s Garden Club of Youngstown wants area residents to think about elm trees, especially today, Arbor Day.
Club members would like residents to locate and report “survivor” American elm trees, those that have not succumbed to Dutch elm disease.
American elms are being researched by the U.S. Forest Service, and recently the Forest Service’s Northern Research Station in Delaware, Ohio, initiated an online system for reporting the location of American elms. The online system can be found at http://nrs.fs.fed.us/survivorelms.
Survivor elm trees are essential to re-establishing the elm in forests, floodplains and city boulevards, and they are rare. More than 100,000 American elm trees have been tested for resistance to Dutch elm disease. None were found to be resistant; however, eight trees showed enough tolerance that they survived exposure. Tolerant trees exposed to the fungus show symptoms the year of inoculation but no symptoms the next year.
Now there’s a Web-based system that allows users to quickly and accurately pinpoint the location of a big elm using Google Maps. Information that users enter goes into a database that also generates a map showing the locations of all of the elms reported.
Users identify the general location by entering an address, ZIP code, latitude and longitude or even a place name, such as a forest, park or wildlife refuge. Google Maps shows the area, and from there users can zoom in, pinpoint a tree’s location, then mark the spot with a digital “thumbtack.”
After the site is identified, visitors are asked to describe the tree itself: How big is it, is it healthy or showing signs of DED, and what habitat surrounds it?
Only big trees are old enough to have been exposed to DED and can be considered survivor American elms. Therefore, only trees 24 inches or more in diameter and about 4.5 feet high that show no signs of DED should be reported.
Eventually, researchers want to visit locations reported on the website and collect a branch to propagate a nursery. Then the tree will be injected with DED to determine whether it really is disease tolerant and, if so, it will be cross-pollinated with healthy elms, and the seedlings will be used in forest restoration.
The American Elm Tree Committee of the Men’s Garden Club was formed in 2009 with the following mission:
Share the history of this uniquely American tree.
Promote awareness of the new disease-resistant elms.
Encourage people to include the elm tree in their landscapes.
Encourage communities to plant elm trees in their parks and public spaces.
For information visit the Men’s Garden Club of Youngstown website at mgcy.org.