These are not ordinary elm trees growing at the University of Minnesota horticulture and agricultural station over on the St. Paul campus. These elm trees are being grown as part of a program sponsored by The U and the Minneapolis Parks Board to develop a Dutch Elm Disease Resistant variety of elm tree. This would be a nice step forward in urban forestry. Perhaps urban streets can one day return to the days of having a beautiful elm tree canopy.
What’s particularly special about these two trees is that they were developed from shoots from two elm trees from Eden Prairie. The two elm trees caught the attention of our forestry employees when they noticed that all the other elm trees in close proximity to them had succumbed to Dutch Elm – except for these two. The natural question then was “Why?” What was special about these two elm trees that would make them apparently resistant to Dutch Elm disease?
Questions were asked. Contacts were made. Shoots were taken off the two Eden Prairie elm trees and taken to The U’s farm in St. Paul for experimentation. The young elms in these two photos are progeny of those two apparently Dutch Elm resistant Eden Prairie elm trees. The U forestry scientists have injected these two young trees with substantial doses of Dutch Elm disease in order to test whether or not the disease resistance factors in their gene pools have carried on. To date, it appears that the young trees carry the same resistance to Dutch Elm has their “parents”.
This is important research. It feels good to be a part of it. Perhaps someday you’ll be able to enjoy the cool shade in your yard of a Dutch Elm disease-resistant Eden Prairie Elm Tree.