The Loud Return Of Dutch Elm Disease

Blog Category: Tree Care
June 27, 2016 by John Griffiths, Master Arborist

In the 1960s and 70s, Iowa experienced a devastating loss of elm trees due to Dutch elm disease (DED). While the disease has been quiet since then, it did not go away – most of the elm trees in our state simply died. Fast forward a few decades and the disease isn’t so quiet anymore; this summer, we’ve seen several American and slippery elms dying from the disease, and the impact has been worse than any years in recent memory.

About Dutch Elm Disease

DED is caused by a fungus called Ophiostoma novo-ulmi, and can be spread by elm bark beetles or through grafted root systems. The disease shows up in elm trees through wilting and discoloration of leaves, and through dark streaks of discoloration on the stems and branches.

Identify Your Risk

Elm trees most at risk for DED are the American elm and the slippery elm. Need help identifying your elm tree? Take a look at the leaves. The American elm’s leaves are rough, almost like sandpaper, whereas the slippery elm’s leaves are, well, slippery! They have a slicker feeling than the American elm’s leaves.

Preventing Dutch Elm Disease

Inject Your Elm

Systemic fungicides can be injected into healthy trees as a preventive measure, and can protect the trees for three years. We use Arbotect, a fungicide that has been shown to be effective against Dutch elm disease. It’s typically injected in multiple points near the base of the tree. Through a pressure system, the fungicide flows into the tree.

Call In The Experts

The team at Wright Outdoor Solutions has arborists on staff that are certified by the International Society of Arboriculture. If you have a large elm that you don’t want to lose, be sure to contact us soon to get on the consultation schedule. We can come out to your property, inspect your trees and advise on whether fungicide treatment or removal is the best route to take with your individual tree. Need more convincing on why you should hire an ISA certified arborist? Click here to read more.

Limit The Damage

Once the tree starts flagging (dropping leaves in the summer), it is too late to do anything about it. Removal of the tree is the only way to prevent the disease from spreading.

Plant Smart

One of the best ways to avoid having all of your trees affected by one disease is to plant a diverse species of trees on your property instead of several of one kind.


Trees are a valuable part of your property, and we’re here to help you maintain that asset. Request a quote to make arrangements for a tree inspection or any other service. Learn more about our tree care services by clicking here.


If you’re wondering what goes into an injection of your elm tree to prevent DED, find photos here.

Elm Final