Tree 15

Ulmus americana ‘Princeton’

Ulmus americana (American elm) is a fast-growing, medium to large deciduous tree, typically growing to 60-80′ (less frequently to 130′) tall with a vase-shaped, broad-rounded crown spanning up to 50′. The flowers are yellowish to brown, and the samaras beige. Yellow is its fall color.

Perhaps the greatest of all shade trees, it is native to eastern and central North America. Once widely planted as a street, shade, and lawn tree, American elm populations were decimated by Dutch elm disease imported from Asia in the 1930s. This fungus, which is spread by elm bark beetles, killed most elms in the US and knocked most elms out of the competition for landscape uses, as they require attention and spraying to keep the disease in check.

Boasting a spreading woven canopy, straight trunk, and fine-leafed foliage, it prefers full sun, but the dappled shade it casts allows turf to grow beneath. ‘Princeton’ reportedly has excellent resistance to Dutch elm disease and is still being planted. It was developed by Princeton Nurseries in 1922, which was about 10 years prior to the time when the Dutch elm fungal infection first came to the U.S. Because William Flemer, Jr. propagated the ‘Princeton’ elm from cuttings, the total demise of the American elm has been avoided. The elms that line Washington Road in Princeton are ‘Princeton’ elms that he planted.