En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Saturday - October 03, 2009

From: San Antonio, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Trees
Title: Lifespan and pruning of cedar elm in San Antonio
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

How long do cedar elm trees live? How can you estimate the age of one, or tell if it is nearing the end of its normal lifespan? Do you have any recommendations for selecting someone to prune it properly? Thank you!

ANSWER:

The lifespan of any tree is an estimate at best, because record-keeping was not as intensive 100 years ago as now. You can look at a tree and check its height and diameter at chest height, but since you don't know when that tree first grew from a seed, about the best you can do is guess. The USDA Forest Service Climate Change Tree Atlas says the typical lifespan of the cedar elm is approximately 100 years; however, it has a question mark for the maximum lifespan. 

This tree is reasonably fast growing, and its height at maturity ranges from 20 to 94 feet, with the shorter maximum heights occurring in areas like the Edwards Plateau, where growing conditions tend to be more difficult. A mature tree averages a 36" diameter at chest height. A tree that is beginning to have branches die is probably approaching its maximum age. The cedar elm is also susceptible to Dutch elm disease, which will kill the elm.

Ulmus crassifolia (cedar elm) certainly needs to be pruned for removal of weak crotches that might result in breakage, as well as shape, particularly in the early years of the tree.  You want to find someone who is a licensed, trained arborist to properly prune. If you go to our Native Plant Suppliers section, you can type your town and state in the "Enter Search Location" box and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed suppliers and landscape and environment consultants in your general area. If you find a company specializing in tree care in that list, contact them and find out the training and qualifications of the arborist who will work on the tree. 

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Ulmus crassifolia

Ulmus crassifolia

Ulmus crassifolia

Ulmus crassifolia

 

 

 

More Trees Questions

Disease of eastern red cedars (Juniperus virginiana)
August 01, 2010 - I have multiple Eastern Red Cedars spaced in my woods which are sick and dying. Some were transplanted years ago, others are volunteers, all are less than 4 ft tall. The foliage turns brown in vario...
view the full question and answer

Average lifespan of Pinchot's Juniper from Golden CO
August 23, 2011 - What is the average lifespan of Juniperus coahuilensis (syn. Juniperus texensis) trees?
view the full question and answer

Arborvitae for house plant from Austin
August 15, 2013 - I am a Northerner transplanted to Austin, TX. While I love Austin it feels like many of the plants & trees I came to love up north won't grow here at all. Could I grow an arborvitae in my home as a...
view the full question and answer

Bacterial wetwood disease in ash tree
November 11, 2004 - I have an Ash tree in my front yard. It's about 25 - 30 years old. About 2 months ago, it began to ooze sap from a point where a limb had been pruned, I'd say, about 15 - 20 years ago. So this cut ...
view the full question and answer

Why is my Chinkapin oak losing its leaves this spring?
June 02, 2009 - We have a chinkapin oak that was planted about two years ago in our front yard. This year it leafed out nicely but about a month ago the leaves began to roll up, then dry out and fall off. It seems ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center