Archive for Friday, April 1, 1994

S ELMS SURVIVE

April 1, 1994

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One of the last of a dying species, a large American Elm tree just north of the military science building is being cared for by KU workers.

When tree climbing, not video games, was a favorite pastime of children, a seed germinated and a sapling took root.

And if this one had eyes it could have seen more than a lifetime of storms, people, animals and tradition.

The tree, now over 50 feet tall, is one of the largest American elms at Kansas University. It is located just north of the Military Science building.

Because of Dutch elm disease, it is one of a dying species.

"We've been losing them left and right," said Steve Helsel, associate director of landscaping for facilities operations.

Crews are working to make sure the large tree is around many more years.

The tree is carefully pruned and sprayed periodically to keep it healthy, Helsel said.

"It's well worth the investment, that's for sure," he said.

Although caring for the trees does not require a large budget, Helsel and Lawrence Parks and Forestry Superintendent George Osborne said caring for American elms is important.

Of more than 2,000 trees on the KU campus, only about 20 are American elms. Many elms died following an outbreak of Dutch elm disease in the 1960s and 1970s. Many trees elsewhere in the city also were lost to the disease, which is caused by a fungus left inside the trees by a black beetle, Osborne said.

Although the disease does not appear to be on the rise again, Osborne and Helsel said people can take simple steps to keep their trees healthy.

"The best thing people can do is keep them watered in the summertime," he said. Also, removing dead limbs is helpful, they said.

"There isn't really anything you can do with Dutch Elm" once it affects a tree, Helsel said.

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