Explore Plants

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
    
 

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:

 

 

 

More Trees Questions

Quercus polymorpha or Mexican white oak
June 19, 2007 - On the Texas Oak Wilt Information Partnership website, they list a "Monterrey Oak" as one of the White Oaks (#3 in the FAQ section). I cannot find Monterrey Oak in your Explore Plants section; does...
view the full question and answer

Trees for creek side in Illinois
July 04, 2008 - I have a creek that runs along my back yard, and was wondering if you could give me some suggestions on water loving trees to grow next to it. The creek gets sun all day and is located in zone 5. (so...
view the full question and answer

Tree near a patio in Tennessee
January 02, 2009 - What type of tree would you plant near a patio (new home and yard) that gets afternoon sun? Thanks
view the full question and answer

Native evergreen to replace non-native chinaberry
November 08, 2011 - Looking for a native evergreen tree to replace a fruitless Chinaberry that was 35 years old. We have clay soil for about 3 feet and then you hit rock. Suggestions would be appreciated.
view the full question and answer

Which native palms survived severe cold from Las Cruces NM
June 12, 2011 - Can you tell me which of the north American native palms survived the severe cold last year that hit El Paso and Las Cruces?
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.