The American elm (Ulmus americana) was once a common sight along suburban and urban streets throughout the United States, in fact Elm is one of the most common street names in the U.S. Its popularity was derived from its graceful spreading branches and its tolerance of heat and pollution. The tree all but disappeared due to an invasive disease, known as Dutch Elm Disease, that is caused by the fungus Ophiostoma sp. that was introduced from Asia in 1928 with bark beetles that quickly spread the disease.
Maps, created by former Bucknell botany professor Wayne Manning, show that American Elms were common on Bucknell’s campus until the 1970s. Today only two of these original elms have survived.
Valley Forge elms were developed through a breeding program U.S. National Arboretum and the USDA Agricultural Research Service. Hopes are high that this cultivar, and other disease-resistant cultivars, will allow for a return of an important landscape tree.