Elms on Gunflint Trail?

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Elms on Gunflint Trail?

Postby tervito » Thu Jul 17, 2008 11:06 am

Well, how unusual is American elm (Ulmus americana) on the Gunflint Trail, and is its detection a sign of climate-influenced range shifts? It's a worthwhile question but not one that is easily answered.

I have often seen elms (and some scrub oak) on the Ely side of the Boundary Waters (particularly around Snowbank Lake), but the Gunflint side is rather colder so these more temperate species are less frequently spotted.

All the same, I have occasionally seen elms up here at the end of the Gunflint Trail. About half a mile south of Sea Gull Outfitters, on the eastern side of the road overlooking a bog is a 2-meter elm. On the drive to Wilderness Canoe Base is a 4-meter elm with spotty foliage throughout its height -- obviously stressed, to judge from the abundant stump sprouts. I have also seen elm samaras in seed traps that I have laid out in the area (on Miles Island). So they're out there.

The range maps for American elm include the entire Arrowhead region (indeed, the entire state of Minnesota) and extend well into Ontario. So, elm can't be ruled out as native to the local area. Silvics of North America (http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvi ... ricana.htm) gives -40° F as the low end of the annual minimum.

Research under way (by a fellow grad student) that looks at bearing tree data and other historical data may give us a better idea of the extent of its presence before European settlement. That can help us determine if it is becoming more prevalent.
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Postby bwca » Thu Jul 17, 2008 12:27 pm

I also recently found acorns on the shore of McFarland Lake... I wasn't able to find the tree though.
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