28.4.05

the beetle and the trees

the invasive asian longhorned beetle has been found in central park, again - but this time, it's going to take down one of the park's treasured american elms... the park is home one of the last stands of Ulmus americana in the northeastern U.S., 1700 of them, protected by their isolation from dutch elm disease. the american elm had been considered the ideal street tree, due to its vaselike shape and unique branching structure that could arch over a roadway - the arrival of d.e.d. wiped out elm populations across the northeast, leaving behind scores of treeless "elm street"s.

while the true elm cathedral is located in the interior of the park at the mall, this new infested tree, one of the double row of american elms that stretches along the length of fifth avenue - is not very far from that grove.

the asian longhorned beetle attacks over ten genera of hardwood trees, all of which are important species in our eastern forests, such as maple, birch, ash, willow, poplar and horsechestnut. its presence has so far only been discovered in urban areas, the destinations of the shipments from china packed in infested solid wood packing crates. even if the beetle remains confined to city limits, it threatens the urban forest which provides numerous benefits that are important to us selfish humans.

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