Elm Trees

This passage discusses elm trees and a disease that can attack and kill them.

Lexile Level: 610L

Categories: Animals & Nature


They were tall, wide, and strong. They provided lots of shade. They grew well in poor soil. They could handle extreme winters and summers. They weren't bothered by smoggy air in big cities. Before the 1940s, American elm trees were everywhere. Kids in the United States used them for swinging, climbing, and treehouses. Today, it's hard to find elm trees. They have been under attack by Dutch elm disease. Dutch elm disease is caused by a fungus. Microscopic beetles carry the fungus from tree to tree. The disease acts fast. When an elm tree is infected, the leaves turn yellow, then brown. The fungus creeps to the branches and then to the trunk. In one year, the branches die. In two years, the whole tree dies. By the 1980s, Dutch elm disease killed 77 million elm trees. Some elms are nearly immune to the disease. Hopefully, these resistant elms will help fill parks again.


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