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Highway Arch

by Neil Carleton 

From highways to byways, some of my favourite trees are the ones I drive under.  With a good portion of their canopies out over the road, they invite a closer look.  This month’s shady character is a landmark, and I encourage you to stop and admire it.

  As I mentioned last month, the giant elms that grew along the highways in our region are pretty much gone now.  Here and there are a few survivors that are resistant to, or have somehow eluded, the Dutch elm disease which was accidentally introduced to North America.  This scourge of the countryside is caused by a fungus that’s carried by an elm bark beetle.

  Heading north on Lanark County Road 29, keep your eyes open for this classic elm, on the right side, before the curve and turn off for the Cedar Hill Road.  With its sweeping branches well over the highway, it’s certainly an icon.  This attractive elm is large for our area with a diameter at breast height of 2’ 2”, or 66 cm, and a circumference of 7’ 5 ½” or 2.28 m.

Highway Elm 1 June 27 2012

Approaching from the south, this large elm towers over the highway.
Highway Elm 1 June 27 2012

With it’s classic umbrella shape, the tree is equally beautiful seen from the north.

My field guide notes that the American Elm, Ulmus Americana, also known as the White Elm, is a hardy tree that’s native to eastern North America from Nova Scotia to Alberta.  They can live for several hundred years in areas not affected by Ditch elm disease.

One of the largest examples in Ontario was the Sauble elm, growing on the bank of the Sauble River in Bruce County.  When it died and was felled in 1968, the Sauble giant was 21 feet, or 6.4 m, in circumference at 6’ / 1.8 m feet above the ground, and 140 feet, or 42.7 m, in height.  A tree ring count revealed that it started growing in 1701.  You can read more about this marvel at


Highway Elm 1 June 27 2012

The big elm on County Road 29 has served as a convenient surface for sign posting, and been a food source for Yellow-bellied sap suckers which drill rows of shallow holes to lap up leaking sap and any trapped insects.Highway Elm 3 June 27 2012
From this angle, the furrows of the coarse bark are in deeper shadow that the lighter coloured ridges which reflect many years of growth.

Do you have a notable or favourite tree?  Readers are invited to submit their nominations for an honor roll of trees in our area that could be featured in future articles.  You can contact me at 613-256-2018, <>, or Neil Carleton, 3 Argyle Street, P.O. Box 1644, Almonte, Ontario, K0A 1A0.  I look forward to hearing from you.

  My volunteer columns started in March 2010, as print features, to support the tree planting and tree awareness initiatives of the Mississippi Mills Beautification Committee.  The contact for the Tree Working Group is Ron Ayling, 613-256-4617.  In Carleton Place, the contact for the Urban Forest / River Corridor Advisory Committee is Jim McCready, 613-257-5853.

Until the next column, you’ll find me looking for and hanging out with local shady characters.




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