Chronicles of the Sacramento Elms: Part 2
April 27, 2016
As National Arbor Day approaches on April 29, it’s
a good time to reflect on our region’s devotion to the trees that make our
landscape so pleasing to the senses. Until the 1880’s, Sacramento was nicknamed
the “City of Plains” for its broad, treeless flatlands. It was then that an
effort began to transform the area into the “City of Trees”; the elm was the
crown jewel of the new canopy. Besides its full canopy and great heights that
shade our streets, the elm was also favored for its ability to deal with cramped
locations and pollution. Sacramento, one of the sunniest spots in the U.S.,
benefits tremendously from these shade champions.
As we mentioned last month, Sacramento’s elm
population has been under attack for quite some time. Damage began in the
1940’s when many young and middle-aged elms were hit by severe windstorms and
then further affected by poor topping and pruning practices. Budget cuts
reduced tree care in the decades beyond. More recently, the elm leaf beetle and
Dutch elm disease (DED) have continued the downward spiral, starting in earnest
in Sacramento in the 1990’s.
Elm leaf beetles eat elm leaves, weakening the
tree, but not killing it. DED is more serious – a deadly threat without a cure.
DED is spread by a different beetle, the European elm bark beetle, which
carries the DED fungus on its feet. It may also be spread by underground root –
to – root contact from an infected tree. DED is a vascular disease that travels
downward to the tree’s roots. Symptoms include wilting, yellowing, and/or
browning of leaves (called flagging) as well as a discoloration of sapwood.
Once DED is established in a tree, it is usually fatal due to the aggressive
nature of the disease. Our current drought has only increased the misery.
The Sacramento Tree Foundation and the City of
Sacramento are recruiting the first class of Save the Elms Program (STEP)
Citizen Scientists in over a decade to help monitor the remaining public elms
for signs of DED. Trees identified with potential DED symptoms will be examined
by the City of Sacramento’s Certified Arborists to determine if the disease is
present; diseased trees will be removed in an attempt to wipe out the fungal
source. Your involvement is crucial in preserving our stately elm canopy! Learn
more about STEP or register for an upcoming STEP
Citizen Scientist training event now!
Currently we have two training events scheduled:
Saturday, May 21 @ 2 - 3:30 pm (Sierra 2 Center, 2791 24th Street,
Sacramento, CA 95818)
Tuesday, May 31 @ 6 - 7:30 pm (Sierra 2 Center, 2791 24th Street, Sacramento, CA 95818)
Take a walk, save a tree!
- Chris Fenstermaker, Volunteer and Guest Blogger