Growing, that is. It will not stop growing until it is cut down and the root ball is removed. I am talking about the ubiquitous “Siberian Elm” – Ulmus pumila – that is everywhere and budding out right now. Drive down many streets in the established parts of Santa Fe, or along many roads in the surrounding areas, and you will see the bright and light green leaves popping out on millions of small and large elm trees
The Wikipedia link is here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulmus_pumila in case you want to read in more detail. It is variously described as invasive and weak, without much in the way of redeeming qualities other than it is somewhat resistant to “Dutch Elm Disease” and it can provide shade. Whereas we all value shade and welcome it during the hotter and sunnier days of summer, I submit there may be other ways to create shade trees that do not include such a water-thirsty invasive tree as the Siberian Elm. Never mind the damage they can do to walkways and roads, buried water lines and sewer lines. Their thirst cannot be satisfied, thus they are a fast growing tree.
“The Siberian Elm has been described as “one of [the world’s worst], if not the world’s worst trees…a poor ornamental that does not deserve to be planted anywhere” is a passage from the Wikipedia entry.
Why is this not a thing? Am I the only one that thinks those trees are making our drought conditions worse and doing substantial damage to our infrastructure?
It can be heresy to even think about cutting down trees in Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico where tree growth is quite limited by the low levels of annual precipitation. Some home buyers thirst for bigger and better views and cannot wait to take down or thin some trees surrounding the home they are buying, to improve the views. Others would think they are butchering living beings to do so. And condemn them for their acts.
But in this world where rainfall and snow pack are often below historical expectations, why would we want to allow millions of volunteer trees (the famous Siberian Elm) to suck water out of the ground, drying out our soils and removing moisture that otherwise could be useful to us in many other more valuable ways? Ask your favorite landscape professional, the person at the nursery that sells you tomato plants and flowering bushes for your yard. Ask them what they think. No landscaping pro would plan to include them in a design. They are basically weeds, fast growing and invasive without value. Ground cover? How about ground destroyers?
And what of my estimate that there are millions of such invasive trees thriving in our area? Try selecting a small piece of dirt along the Old Pecos Trail, between Cordova and San Mateo, or a small piece of dirt on Don Gaspar south of Cordova, near San Mateo, and park your car, get out and start counting. If you could find 250 trees (of all stages of maturity) in a plot no larger than 40 feet by 50 feet, what would the total be. looking all over the area? Maybe 10 million? How many acre-feet of water would be left in the ground if even half of those elm trees were removed?
My mistake for calling them Chinese Elms over the years. I was wrong in my name calling. They are Siberian Elms, to my knowledge, although I am not an expert in trees or plants. I do know a thing or two about real estate and welcome your support in providing my timely and informative statistics monthly. If you have a real estate need or want, I would be happy to discuss those with you. Thanks.