Madison to lose 140-year-old American Elm tree to Dutch Elm Disease

August 1, 2007

From 1958 to 1975, the City of Madison lost over 18,500 trees to Dutch Elm Disease (DED). Since 1975, DED losses have decreased significantly thanks to a disease resistant elms and planting a variety of trees along our streets. DED losses have been reduced, but not eliminated.

Dutch Elm Disease is the reason City Forestry crews will need to take down a majestic 140 year old American Elm located on the 500 block of W. Gorham Street.

On July 6, City Forestry crews discovered the elm had DED. Bruce Allison, of Allison Tree Consulting, was immediately consulted to see if the tree could be saved with a fungicide treatment for DED. Treatment is only effective when 5% or less of the tree is showing symptoms. Unfortunately, 25% of this American Elm's crown showed symptoms and the fungicide would not be effective.

Dutch Elm Disease, first detected in the U.S. in 1931 and in Madison in 1954, is caused by the fungus Ceratocystis ulmi. This fungus is transmitted to healthy American elms in two ways: by bark beetles transmitting fungal spores or through root grafts (the growing together of roots of adjacent trees) between diseased and healthy trees.

The American Elm on the 500 block of W. Gorham is 4½ feet in diameter and is well over 60 feet tall. The elm is scheduled to be removed in late summer. "This American Elm has seen so much of Madison's history," says Marla Eddy, City Forester, "Now sadly it's own history in the urban forest is ending." Cross section cuts or 'tree cookies' will be saved in order to use to talk about the history of this tree and of Madison.

Contact:
  • Marla Eddy, 266-4450
  • Laura Whitmore, 266-5949