America's Tree

IF the fig was Eden's tree, the oak England's, the plane France's, and the linden Berlin's, surely the elm was America's tree.

Was, alas, until recent years. The towering elm umbrellas that sheltered so many clapboard-house-lined American towns and lonely roadways nearly disappeared from Norman Rockwell's America. But a resistant cultivar, dubbed the American Liberty Elm, has been planted in town greens and parks in recent years. Now comes the promise of a great leap forward in the re-elming of America.

The nonprofit Elm Research Institute of Harrisville, N.H., developer of the new resistant elm, is seeking corporate, civic, and individual sponsors to plant the great trees alongside historic highway US 1, running from Maine to Florida. The aim: to have each community along the route plant 11 of the 5-to-6 foot young trees.

Much of the built landscape of America has changed since the tall fountain-shaped elms last towered over yard and field. But something truly full of wonder will be restored to the scene. High shade. Placid majesty. (And, yes, more carbon dioxide removal from the atmosphere.) A notable bargain for local sponsors looking for high visibility.

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