Thursday, January 20, 2011

Notable American Elms

Contributing Writer - Carol Herwig, Volunteer Coordinator

Although Dutch elm disease (DED) has diminished many of Washington D.C.'s elm-lined streets and parks, there are a few grand survivors that can be appreciated. Some, such as the grand Lafayette Park elm facing the White House at Madison Street NW and those on the National Mall, receive special attention from the National Park Service. Elm lovers in Mount Pleasant raise money to inoculate their old trees against DED.

A massive American Elm at the southeast
corner of Lafayette Park.

The American elm towering over the Metro bus stop at Sherman Circle and Crittenden Street NW has a diameter at breast height (DBH) of 5 feet (15.5 feet in circumference) and a crown spread of 90 to 100 feet. Its future is threatened – a lower limb was torn off in last winter's windstorm, leaving a large wound. Rock Creek Cemetery boasts an elm with a DBH of 45 inches and a hundred-foot spread that shades New Hampshire Avenue NW.

The biggest elm in Ward 1, on Ontario Place NW, is nearly five feet in diameter. In Capitol Hill, south of the Capitol off 3rd Street, are some great elms. North Carolina Avenue SE has an mix of survivors and the selections arborists have turned to as replacements: Japanese zelkovas, Chinese elms and more recently, disease-resistant 'Princeton' cultivar American Elms planted by Casey Trees.

The long-lived John Quincy Adams Elm in 1965.

Sadly there are many great American Elms that have not survived. An elm on the southeast grounds of the White House, known as the John Quincy Adams Elm, lived from 1826 to 1991 when it was taken down because of structural concerns. A sapling was derived from a root cutting from the original tree and was planted in 1991 by First Lady Barbara Bush, so in a way the ancient tree lives on.

There are also many notable American Elms outside of the District. The national champion elm, according to American Forests' Big Tree survey, is in Ross County, Ohio. It has a circumference of 273 inches (DBH of just over 7 feet), stands 118 feet tall and has a crown width of 100 feet. American Forests, in selecting Big Trees, follows the following formula to determine the Big Tree champion for each species: Trunk Circumference (DBHx3.1416 or pi) + Height + ¼ Average Crown Spread = Total Points. Using those standards, the Sherman Circle tree's formula is 186 inches + 55 (feet) + 25 (feet) = 266. The Ohio tree received 416 points.

The national champion elm in Ross County, Ohio.

You can view notable American Elms on the Casey Trees Map. You can even nominate a favorite elm in your neighborhood if it has not yet been selected or look at historic American Elm corridors throughout the District.

1 comment:

si said...

there is a huge elm in square 0523 behind 1229 4th st NW. trunk is probably at least 4ft diameter. her sister used to reside behind 1225, tree died in 2000 and dropped a massive limb across the backyard of 1227 in 2002. That one was almost as big but was completely taken down. the 1229 elm is alive & well and looks like it shall swallow up the little houses.