July 2003
Plant of the Month
Pioneer Elm
(Ulmus Hybrids)
zone: 4
by Dr. Jeff Gillman

The Return of the Elms

When I first came to Minnesota over five years ago I was amazed at the number of American elms that I saw. Not that the landscape was covered with them of course, but at least there were a few around that could be appreciated without driving 50 miles as is the case in the Eastern and Southern U.S. Young specimens were tough to find though, very few were out there and everyone seemed scared of trying them because of Dutch Elm Disease. The climate is now rapidly changing. There are a number of new elm cultivars out there. Most of these new cultivars are strange crosses between species such as U. glabra, U. japonica and U. wilsoniana, but some are real live American elms that have proven to be resistant to Dutch Elm Disease and may soon be finding their way back into the nursery trade. The University of Minnesota in cooperation with The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has been looking at a number of different Elm varieties over the past three years and has collected a great deal of data on these plants. One non-American cultivar that we are extremely excited about is 'Pioneer' a cross between U. glabra and U. carpinifolia that is very attractive and holds a good form at a young age (something that not many of the elms do!). Two full bred American elms that we are looking at right now include 'Princeton' and 'Valley Forge'. Both of these plants hold promise although all of the 'Princeton' did not survive last winter as we would have hoped. To see more about these elms go to www.tre.umn.edu and check out the current research section. Pictures of young trees and growth data are available. Fear may cause elms to return to retail centers slowly, but when they do an amazing variety of these trees will be available.

Dr. Jeff Gillman
University of Minnesota
MNLA Nursery Committee Member

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