Too many dry autumns take a toll on city elms

They are a disturbing and unnatural sight — sort of a deciduous equivalent to Cousin Itt.

They are a disturbing and unnatural sight — sort of a deciduous equivalent to Cousin Itt.

Certain trees around Red Deer are resembling the enigmatic, all-over furry relative in The Addams Family TV series and movies, by growing bushy shoots everywhere where leaves shouldn’t be.

Their trunks are covered in dense foliage, while the top branches are going bare.

This strange bottom-heavy spectacle — especially prevalent among the elm trees around the Michael O’Brien wetlands north of Clearview — is caused by three consecutive fall droughts, City of Red Deer arborist Elaine Johnson said Wednesday.

“These trees are basically in survival mode,” she added — although ‘death throes’ might be a more accurate description of some more stressed specimens.

Johnson said the city is assessing these dying elms, and also some similarly distressed schubert choke cherry and green ash trees, to see if they can be saved or must be replaced. “We’re looking at what the trees will look like (after pruning the dead branches) and we’re also looking at their structure. If it’s a big tree we have to consider safety first.”

City parks workers tried to do extra waterings last fall to compensate for drought conditions, but Johnson said new plantings were prioritized.

The trees around the O’Brien wetland are several years old and were thought to have a better chance of survival, being near water.

If drought sets in again after the summer storm season ends, Johnson said parks department workers, who are now busy with clearing breakage from windstorms, will have to step up waterings. They may also have to reconsider the kind of trees that are planted here in future.

The arborist said some scientists believe there will be a mass extinction of trees with climate change. “I know some people don’t believe in it,” but if unnaturally dry falls become the norm, she added, “we’ll see if our trees are telling us something.”

Home owners are advised to water in trees on their properties before winter — especially if there’s only light precipitation in the fall. A heavy snowfall won’t necessarily guarantee tree health, said Johnson.

She noted that turf competes with trees for moisture, so grass shouldn’t be allowed to grow right up to tree trunks.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Former Central Alberta MLA appealing fine for not protecting a list of 20,000 electors

List included names and addresses of voters in Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre

Red Deer beginning two major construction projects

Ross Street’s 1935-era water main to be replaced and 67th Street roundabout landscaped

Lacombe firefighters on moose duty

Unfortunately, injured moose had to be put down by Fish and Wildlife officer

UPDATED: Spring craft sale attracts shoppers

Over 150 artisans at Red Deer craft sale

RCMP searching for man who may be armed

Citizens should not approach James Holley if spotted, says police.

WATCH: Fine wine and food at Red Deer College

The Red Deer College Alumni Association hosted its 14th annual Fine Wine… Continue reading

Doctors warn of cannabis risks for pregnant or breastfeeding users

OTTAWA — The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is warning pregnant and… Continue reading

Avicii, DJ-producer who performed around the world, dies

NEW YORK — Avicii, the Grammy-nominated electronic dance DJ who performed sold-out… Continue reading

Red Deer filmmakers are among 2018 Rosie Awards nominees

Cache Productions, Ignition Films in the running for AMPIA Awards

Audit clears Facebook despite Cambridge Analytica leaks

NEW YORK — An audit of Facebook’s privacy practices for the Federal… Continue reading

Marijuana sector firms get marketing pushback as legalization looms

TORONTO — Some Canadian marijuana sector companies are getting pushback against their… Continue reading

Red Deer volleyball player Samantha Gagnon named athlete of the month

A high school volleyball player has been named the Alberta Sport Development… Continue reading

Sarah Jessica Parker calls Cynthia Nixon’s run ‘exciting’

NEW YORK — Cynthia Nixon’s quest for the governorship of New York… Continue reading

Lawyers for Russian player say FIFA ends anti-doping case

By Graham Dunbar THE ASSOCIATED PRESS GENEVA — Lawyers for Russia defender… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month