Woods of the World

Click on the elm section to view the interactive exhibit.
elm section


The section of the American elm (Ulmus americana) trunk hanging on the north hallway wall above the water fountains comes from an elm tree that grew on the homestead of Joel Hayden (1798 – 1873) in the village of Haydenville six miles northwest of the Smith campus. A ring count puts its year of germination at about 1827 during the presidency of John Quincy Adams.

In 1874 when the tree was just under 50 years old it survived a brutal hurricane. Eventually, the tree met its worst enemy, Dutch elm disease. This fungal disease, spread by the elm bark beetle, has no cure. Even with preventative treatment most American elm trees succumb to the disease. In 2004, this tree’s ongoing battle with Dutch elm was lost. It was removed and a section of the trunk was donated to the Botanic Garden by Margaret Waggoner for educational purposes on behalf of Phyllis Williams Lehman who taught at Smith College from 1946 to 1978.

Tree rings, also called annual growth rings, can be counted to determine the age of a tree.

In this exhibit, the years of significant events that occured during the elm's lifetime are indicated with numbered markers pointing to the corresponding annual ring on the elm section.


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