They are most often seen by themselves along a road allowance, or a fence line. Here is one of the largest in the area, shown on a cold winter day. Measuring it at ~4.5 feet above ground, the standard height for what is known as diameter at breast height (dbh), it measures 1.25 metres diameter.
|American Elm in winter|
|American Elm in May|
|American Elm in November|
Elms are prolific seed producers and to their benefit, begin producing seed at a fairly young age. So there are lots of young elms that get a start on life, and if they are relatively isolated, may grow to maturity. But many just get started and die back, so they look quite scrubby along the road side.
Even some mature trees may have a scrubby base, such as this one along another quiet rural road between Blenheim and Ridgetown.
A much rarer tree in Ontario is the American Chestnut (Castanea dentata). It was a forest dwelling species, and the handful of individuals that remain are mostly still in forests. They were a dominant forest species up until about 1900. It too was the victim of an Asian bark fungus that arrived on the intentionally introduced Asian Chestnut. Having no resistance to this fungus like its Asian counterpart, the American Chestnut dwindled from comprising almost 30% of the forest trees to being almost completely obliterated.
|American Chestnut flowers|
|American Chestnut fruit|
While the American Chestnut is usually surrounded by other tree species, it could be considered a lonely species since there is seldom more than one or two of its kind in any location.
American Elm, does still occur in the forests, but some of the most impressive individuals are well away from a forest. Being relatively isolated may work to their benefit: they are a greater distance from other individuals which may be affected by the fungus, so their chances of the fungus being transferred causing a premature death is reduced. Hopefully this individual along Hwy 21 a bit south of Thamesville will have a long and productive life!