Growing Ward 29's tree canopy

U Guelph Loves our Giant Elm!

Copyright Peter Visima

A highlight of our July 2014 East York tree tour was the giant White Elm tree at 34 Torrens Ave. This tree is a survivor of Dutch Elm Disease (DED) so we thought it should interest the researchers at the University of Guelph Arboretum’s Elm Recovery Project. They study trees that show natural resistence to DED with the goal of cultivating new trees from that hardy stock.

U Guelph maintains a registry of Ontario Elms over 7 feet in circumference. Our tour participants measured the Torrens Avenue tree at 13 feet around. Together, we filled in the University’s Elm Recovery Reporting Form and mailed it off. Here is their reply of October 24:

Please forgive our delay on getting back to you with regards to your Elm Recovery Project report form. The Arboretum is a non-profit department of the university, and our small staff is generally stretched to limit with outdoor work managing our botanical and conservation collections during the summer months, so office work can often pile up until the weather changes and we have the chance to begin the catch-up.

Checking our database, we have 41 records for the Toronto/York area though we don’t have the Torrens tree in our system yet, so this is great information to have.

As you speculated, the focus of our project has indeed shifted a little over past several years, though we still remain very interested in receiving new reports of outstanding elms. The initial phase of our project was to survey and collect potentially DED tolerant elms from across the province, and much of this work was done between 1998 and 2004. In that time, our funding allowed us to survey over 600 large individuals. Since then, we’ve been doing much of the follow-up research here in Guelph, and have been working with replicates of these giant trees to better understand how they react to DED infection. While our budget and capacity has led us to focus on our testing and breeding program here in Guelph, we are continuing to update our database of large survivor elms, with the hope that we can eventually get out onto the landscape again to observe the elms that we were unaware of during our first round of field surveys. For this reason, your information is very helpful. The photo of the Torrens tree that you included with your report shows an outstanding tree, and one that would certainly be worthwhile for us to take a closer look at.

Great to hear of your tree tour this summer, and measuring the tree and filling out the details sounds like a fun way to get the participants to look a little more closely at that mammoth of a tree!

Thanks again, and all the best,

Sean Fox
Assistant Arboretum Manager & Head Horticulturist
The Arboretum
University of Guelph
Guelph, ON, Canada
N1G 2W1

The Arboretum already knew about another stunning White Elm tree just south of us at 149 Hazelwood Ave., near Danforth & Jones. We are lucky to have these beauties so close by where we can appreciate them 🙂


One comment on “U Guelph Loves our Giant Elm!

  1. rolf struthers
    August 24, 2015


    Unfortunately the white elm at 34 Torrens has succumbed to the new wave of Dutch Elm disease moving through our neighborhood.

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This entry was posted on October 25, 2014 by .
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