Gardening Etcetera: Joyful 90th to Flagstaff’s George Washington Elm | Native

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Here is the George Washington Elm and McCormick Rose on the Northern Arizona University campus.


SD OLBERDING

SUSAN DEAVER OLBERDING

On a rainy Arbor Day in Flagstaff in 1931, a group of local Flagstaff women, all members of the Coconino chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), planted a branch from a historic elm tree. Now this stately tree is celebrating a milestone by turning 90 and in good shape.

The branch came from the Ulmus americana Elm tree in Cambridge, MA, under which George Washington took command of the Continental Army on July 3, 1775. This tree died in October 1923, estimated to be 200 years old, but was a predictive botanist and a Maryland DAR member made sure his legacy lived on at universities in the United States, including Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.

The botanists took transplants of the famous elm. In 1931, the Harvard University Arboretum sent the grafts to universities in every state to be planted for Washington’s 200th birthday. The original wood was made into furniture and bookends and sent to both the state governments and Mount Washington. Vernon, Virginia home for viewing.

An uncle of a Maryland DAR member collected acorns from outside the original tree fence and gave them to his niece. She planted the acorns and then gave seedlings to other DAR chapters, city and district offices, and other government agencies.

The sturdy Flagstaff tree may be the only survivor of these statewide plantings as most of them succumbed to Dutch elm disease. The plaque at the base of the sapling read: “Under the ancestor of this American elm, George Washington took command of the Continental Army in Cambridge, MA on July 3, 1775.”