How to Identify Dutch Elm Disease

This summer several trees have been removed from Boston Parks due to Dutch Elm Disease (DED). Most recently, three trees were taken out of the Public Garden for fear the disease would spread (for more information about the removal click here).

What is DED?

Dutch Elm Disease (DED) is the result of a fungus that infects the vascular system of the tree. This prevents water movement to the crown, which will eventually result in the death of the tree.  DED spreads through grafted roots making it a particularly dangerous disease because it can spread rapidly through nearby trees. The Friends of Public Garden is working hard to contain the spread of DED by identifying infected trees early on, removing them from the area and treating trees to prevent the disease from taking hold.

How can you identify DED? 

As the disease takes root the leaves of the tree will wilt and proceed to yellowing and browning.  Branches and stems of the infected elms will develop dark streaks of discoloration. Symptoms typically begin in late spring and can appear anytime during the growing season. Patterns of progression will vary depending on where the fungus has taken hold. It is also possible for individual branches to be affected.

What can you do?

If you notice a tree exhibiting symptoms of DED contact The Friends of the Public Garden by calling (617) 723-8144 or email us at

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