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Arboriculture & Urban Forestry Online
Volume 43, Issue 3 — May 2017

Ten-Year Performance of the United States National Elm Trial    (View PDF)

Jason J. Griffin, William R. Jacobi, E. Gregory McPherson, Clifford S. Sadof, James R. McKenna, Mark L. Gleason, Nicole Ward Gauthier, Daniel A. Potter, David R. Smitley, Gerard C. Adams, Ann Brooks Gould, Christian R. Cash, James A. Walla, Mark C. Starrett, Gary Chastagner, Jeff L. Sibley, Vera A. Krischik, and Adam F. Newby

Abstract: Ulmus americana (American elm) was an important urban tree in North America prior to the introduction of the Dutch elm disease pathogen in 1930. Subsequently, urban and community forests were devastated by the loss of large canopies. Tree improvement programs produced disease tolerant American and Eurasian elm cultivars and introduced them into the nursery industry. However, consumer acceptance was slow. The National Elm Trial was established to evaluate commercially available taxa of elm across the United States. Established at 16 locations, these plantings monitored survival and growth, as well as disease and insect pressure for 7 to 10 years. ‘Morton’ elm had >90% survival, while 13 cultivars averaged 70% to 90%, and five cultivars ranged from 25% to 69% survival. Trunk diameter growth by location ranged from 0.5 cm/year (Colorado, U.S.) to more than 2.0 cm/year (Iowa, U.S.). By taxa, trunk diameter growth ranged from a low, by ‘JFS Bieberich’ elm (0.7 cm/year), to a high by ‘New Horizon’ elm (1.7 cm/year). Scale insects were minor issues at most trial locations, except Colorado, where scales contributed to the death of several cultivars. Performance ratings (scale 1 to 5) ranged from 2.7 for ‘JFS Bieberich’ elm to 4.5 for ‘New Horizon’ elm. Based on the ratings, the preferred cultivars of American elm were ‘New Harmony’ and ‘Princeton’, and the preferred cultivars of Asian elm were The Morton Arboretum introductions and ‘New Horizon’. These findings will help green-industry professionals determine what elm cultivars will perform the best in different regions.

Keywords: Chalkbark Elm; Japanese Elm; Lacebark Elm; Scotch Elm; Siberian Elm; Smoothleaf Elm; Tree Evaluation; Ulmus carpinifolia; Ulmus glabra; Ulmus japonica; Ulmus parvifolia; Ulmus propinqua; Ulmus pumila; Ulmus wilsoniana; Urban Forestry; Wilson Elm.

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