Dutch Elm Disease is affecting trees all over the country, including one family in Portland, Oregon. Alyssa Gregg, a 15-year resident of Ladd’s Addition, was flabbergasted to find out that her trees, which were infected with Dutch Elm disease, would cost $4,000 to remove.
It wasn’t an isolated incident either. Last year her neighbor lost a tree to the same disease. Gregg wasn’t as much surprised by the fact that the tree was infected, as an assessment last year forecasted as much, but she thought the city would fit the bill. Now there’s a dispute, and there’s likely no happy ending in site for this local resident.
Dutch Elm disease is caused by a fungus and is highly lethal to American and European elms. The symptom of Dutch elm disease is flagging, a wilting and browning of leaves, usually on a single branch or portion of the canopy. According to the City of Portland’s website, susceptible species include American elms, Dutch elms, English elms, Wych elms, Camperdown elms and smoothleaf elms. Fungicide can be injected into elm trees as a preventative treatment, but a certified arborist must supervise the fungicide injection procedure.
According to APS, The Ophiostoma species that cause Dutch elm disease grow and reproduce only within elms. At times they are parasites, feeding on living tissue of the elm tree; at other times they are saprophytes, getting nourishment from dead elm tissue.
Dutch Elm disease spreads in one of two ways.
Today, some communities maintain active programs to manage Dutch elm disease because they have found that it is cheaper to manage the disease than to remove the large dead trees that it leaves behind.
Here are two options:
Don’t immediately assume you’re dealing with Dutch Elm disease. It’s always important to get an expert in tree surgery to come take a look at the situation. They’re able to distinguish Dutch Elm disease from look alike problems, such as:
Drought symptoms in an elm usually shows up as sporadic yellowing flat leaves that are dispersed throughout the tree canopy. Whereas Dutch elm disease causes the leaves to curl and the dieback is usually thorough in one or more section of the tree.
If the lower leaves are visible, you will see flat leaves that have small whitish spots or if the infestation is severe, the leaves will take on a tan appearance.
Look for strange branch angles which are a good indicator of broken branches. Broken branches will often hang down and the symptoms on the branch will not progress. The use of binoculars can be a good tool to distinguish the difference.
Again, make sure not to self-diagnose. As much as you think you may know, you’re most likely not the expert. Sure, it will cost a few bucks, but if you go through the expensive process of removing a tree when it doesn’t need to be removed, you can actually cost yourself more. Let the experts handle the diagnostics.
If you don’t know what kind of Elm you have on your property or in your neighborhood, an arborist consultation is a great way to identify and prevent more losses of these beautiful trees. If you have an Elm that has been killed or affected by DED, another important note is the proper disposal of material. All brush/wood that can be chipped should be. Other methods of disposal are burning, burying, and debarking. Tree material infected with Dutch Elm disease should not be transported, as it can spread the disease to areas not affected.
Now to come full circle, Gregg was told if the dying trees weren’t removed in 15 days a lien would be put on her home. She said she wish she knew this was a possibility, but she wasn’t informed. If she knew, she’d have more than 15 days to come up with the substantial $4,000 figure. To make matters worse for Gregg, not only does she need to remove the trees, but City code requires her to replace them, and that can cost $300 apiece. It sure looks like she’s going to need a tree surgeon in Portland, Oregon, to come and get the job done.