Elm: Dutch elm disease

categories: Elm Elm Diseases Ornamental trees Ornamentals

revision date: 2022-11-22 01:10

Dying Elm trees with houses in the background.
Dutch elm disease
Photo by: C.R. Foss


Dutch elm disease is a fungal infection transmitted by elm bark beetles. Bark beetles carry disease spores on their bodies and infect trees when they feed. Leaves above the infection site turn yellow and twigs die back, producing a characteristic “flagging” symptom. Premature leaf drop may occur. The infection spreads rapidly throughout the tree, plugging the vascular system and killing the entire tree in one to several years. Infected branches show streaking and discoloration of the outer layers of the wood when cut. The disease can overwinter in infected, dying, or dead trees, dead wood and stumps, and recently cut logs. The disease can also spread from infected to healthy trees through natural root grafts.

Management Options

Use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for successful plant problem management.

Non-chemical Management

Select non-chemical management options as your first choice!

  • Plant resistant elm varieties including:
    • ‘Christine Buisman’ / ‘Dynasty’ / ‘Homestead’ / ‘New Horizon’ / ‘Pioneer’ / ‘Regal’ / ‘Urban’ /  ‘Sapporo Autumn Gold’.
    • Siberian elm (Ulmus pumila) / Chinese elm (U. parvifolia) / Japanese zelkova (Zelkova serrata) / elm zelkova (Z. carpinifolia) / hackberry (Celtis sp.) are also resistant.
  • Bark beetles are attracted to injured trees. Avoid injury to trees during spring and summer.
  • Control bark beetles, which may attack weak or damaged trees.
  • Destroy freshly cut wood of beetle-infested trees or strip and destroy bark from logs.
  • Remove infected trees immediately.

Chemical Management

IMPORTANT: Visit Home and Garden Fact Sheets for more information on using pesticides.

  • None recommended

Additional Images