En Español

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
2 ratings

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 Pruning Questions

Sad Germanders in Johnson City Texas
September 16, 2011 - I have some grey bush germanders that never seem to do well although they did at first when I planted them four years ago. They have sun and dappled shade on the south side of the house. A friend in ...
view the full question and answer

Pruning Bald Cypress in Wylie, TX
January 02, 2010 - I have a 6 year old bald cypress that sustained damage to the upper portion of its trunk a couple of years ago. Since that time it has grown more outward than upward and developed a rounder shape. I...
view the full question and answer

Freeze damage to esperanza in pot from Brady TX
December 10, 2009 - My esperanza, currently in a container, has suffered some freeze damage. I have prepared a planting spot for it and am not sure whether to plant now, trim it back if I do plant it, etc. I would appr...
view the full question and answer

Pruning non-native peach in Austin, TX.
June 18, 2015 - I planted two five gallon Texas Star peach trees last February but didn't have the nerve to prune them back to knee height. After having been convinced that this is a good thing to do, I'd like to k...
view the full question and answer

Need information about pruning Persimmon trees in Buda, TX.
November 29, 2010 - Mr. Smarty, We have many wild persimmon trees in our yard. Some I want prune to bush size. What is the best way to prune these trees and to what extent can they be safely pruned. Thank you for shari...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center