Disease-resistant American elms offered

The Natural Land Institute, one of the oldest private conservation groups in northern Illinois, is offering the AAmerican Liberty Elm” to the public as part of the effort to re-leaf Rockford after the July 5 wind storm. The Dutch elm disease-resistant tree saplings are one to two feet tall and can be planted this fall or next spring. They will grow 30 feet in 10 years and can be expected to reach heights of 100 feet or more. The American Liberty elm was cloned from American elms that were selected for their superior resistance to Dutch elm disease from a nationwide screening program that began in the 1930s. Due to its unique cell structure, the new elm can wall off the fungus that causes the disease and prevent the tree from dying. Although showing stress, they do not show symptoms of the disease, even after repeated inoculations of the fungus into the vascular system of the tree. “The American Liberty elm comes with a registration card, instructions for planting, pruning, staking and watering, and a life-time warranty against dying from Dutch elm disease,” said Jerry Paulson, executive director of the Natural Land Institute. “Any tree that succumbs to the disease will be replaced with a tree of the same size. The American Liberty elm is only available to members of the Elm Research Institute, a nonprofit group dedicated to the restoration of the American elm, or from local conservation groups. It is the only true American elm that has natural resistance to Dutch elm disease. Other disease-resistant elms available at local nurseries are hybrids of American elms and Asian or European species. The Natural Land Institute will give a one-year-old potted sapling to anyone who makes a $100 membership donation or more to the organization. Current NLI members can get a tree for a donation of $50 or more. Trees will be available to pick up at NLI’s office at 320 S. Third St. in Rockford. To get an order form, call NLI at 815/964-6666. For more information about the American Liberty elm, go to www.libert-yelm.com.

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