Gardening Etcetera: Joyful 90th to Flagstaff’s George Washington Elm – Arizona Each day Solar

Here is the George Washington Elm and McCormick rose on the Northern Arizona University campus.

On a rainy Arbor Day in Flagstaff in 1931, a group of local Flagstaff women, all members of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Coconino Chapter, planted a sprig from a historic elm tree. Now, this stately tree celebrates a milestone by turning 90 years and being in fine shape.

The tree sprig came from the Ulmus americana Elm tree in Cambridge, MA under which George Washington assumed command of the Continental Army on July 3, 1775. This tree died in October 1923 at an estimated age of 200 years, but foresighted botanists and a Maryland DAR member made sure its legacy lived on at universities across the United States, including Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.

The botanists took grafts of the famous elm. In 1931, Harvard University’s Arboretum mailed the grafts to universities in every state to be planted on the 200th anniversary of Washington’s birthday. The original wood was made into furniture and book-ends and sent to both state governments and Washington’s Mt. Vernon, Virginia home for display.

An Uncle of a Maryland DAR member gathered acorns from outside the original tree’s fence and gave them to his niece. She planted the acorns and then gave saplings to other DAR chapters, city and county offices, and other government entities.

Flagstaff’s hardy tree may be the only survivor of these nationwide plantings, as most have succumbed to Dutch elm disease. The plaque placed at the base of the sapling stated: “Under the forebearer of this American elm, George Washington assumed command of the Continental Army at Cambridge, MA on July 3, 1775.”

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