Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - June 09, 2008

From: Creve Coeur, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Seedlings of elm trees in Illinois
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have what I believe to be young elm trees sprouting throughout my front yard. I will pull them up and over night more sprout and will be 5+ inches tall. I would like to know how to get rid of them, stop them from growing. The houses next to me do not have this problem. Thank you

ANSWER:

If you have the sprouts in your yard, and the neighbors don't, that probably means that the mother tree is in your yard. There are three elms considered native to Illinois: Ulmus alata (winged elm), Ulmus americana (American elm), and Ulmus rubra (slippery elm). All are susceptible to Dutch Elm disease, which has nearly wiped out the species in North America. They are also weedy, and they tend to infest hedges, fencerows and other idle ground, as you have already found out.

Insofar as the present sprouts are concerned, there is not much you can do except pull them out, mow them, and curse them. Using any sort of herbicide would endanger the plants around them. If the tree is not very old or essential to your landscape, you might consider having it cut down. In view of the weediness and problems with pests and disease, this might save you a lot of grief in the long run. Even if you do that, birds and animals are going to continue to pick up the seeds and disseminate them, but after a year or so the problem should lessen.


Ulmus alata

Ulmus americana

Ulmus rubra

 

 

 

More Trees Questions

Possible wilt disease in mountain laurels
August 31, 2006 - Three of about 24 of my mature mountain laurels died suddenly, the leaves turned brown almost overnight, scratching the bark revealed no green tissue, the small branches practically cracked when bent,...
view the full question and answer

Shrub that will grow outside in Zone 5 from Millbrook NY
April 21, 2012 - Is there any shrub, tree or other sort of plant that will grow well in zone 5 in a very large container outdoors?
view the full question and answer

Hackberry stripped by Cedar Waxwings or American Goldfinches
March 27, 2007 - I live in Fort Worth. My one and only tree in the backyard is a 23 year old hackberry. While not infested with gall or weevils, we have been invaded this past few weeks by hordes of small, chubby, yel...
view the full question and answer

Trees for traffic buffer in Portland OR
September 20, 2010 - Hi, saw the question about small space plants. On this topic, our street in Portland OR is looking for a fast growing, 20-30 ft tree that can go in a 12" wide parking strip along our road (we have ma...
view the full question and answer

Recovering neglected garden space from Grapevine TX
March 22, 2014 - I live in Grapevine TX (Dallas). I just moved into a house where almost the entire large backyard is covered by oak trees that shed tons of leaves throughout our mild falls/winters. The yard has not...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.