Arborists remove diseased Old Main tree

March 09, 2012

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Work began early on March 9 and lasted until late in the afternoon on March 10 to remove the diseased American elm outside Old Main on Penn State's University Park campus. The tree, which with its twin outside the other corner of Old Main, has been a fixture on the University Park campus since 1933. Elm yellows, a disease that has already claimed many American elms on the University Park campus, also has claimed this tree.

Jeff Dice, supervisor of grounds maintenance, explained that swift removal of the dying tree is necessary to slow the spread of the epidemic. The elm’s infection was confirmed by Penn State’s Department of Plant Pathology and corroborated by the University Tree Commission. He added that University arborists have been able to impede the disease’s progress across campus, but not to stop it.

Arborists needed two days to remove the tree, which stood 125 feet tall with a branch spread of 108 feet and a trunk diameter of 56.4 inches. Smaller branches and twigs were fed into a wood chipper as they were removed from the tree. The larger branches and main trunk will be made into furniture in the Penn State Elms collection. This collection is made from the elms on campus that have been killed by elm yellows and Dutch elm disease. A portion of the proceeds from the Penn State Elms Collection is being used by Penn State’s Office of Physical Plant to replant the campus with a wide variety of species. For information, visit online.

For more information about the elm being removed from the Old Main lawn, visit and for photos of the removal process, visit (Friday) and online.

  • Nate Haupt cuts a large branch into smaller, more manageable pieces so it can be fed into the wood chipper. For more photos, click on the image above.

    IMAGE: Annemarie Mountz
Last Updated March 22, 2012