Monday, May 2, 2011

Minor bioterror

 At the moment - May 2011 - the elm trees are dropping their seeds. The air is full of little coin-shaped projectiles. Like snowflakes, featherlight, they traverse long distances and form huge heaps out of the wind.

Today I gathered a shopping bag full of these seeds. At least 5 liters but they weighed almost nothing. The plastic bag looked and felt like a pillow filled with down.

I had a devilish plan. According to some gardening websites elm trees are a noxious weed:

It will be a blizzard of seeds, and they will drift in the yard just like snow. I observe that the seeds have a 100% germination rate, or damn near it. They will even germinate out of a pile of nothing but themselves, given a little moisture. I have never encountered a plant so prolific.

Aaargh, these things are the bane of our gardening! The "snow" is pretty, I'll give you that, but then picking the sprouts all summer lest they take root, oh I hate it. Because once they get established they are truly a bitch to get out.

There are 3 mature elm trees across the back lane from me. Every spring at least some of those seeds fly into my yard. I try to remove them as they sprout but there are always some that start growing underneath a shrub or perennial and go unnoticed until next spring.

Definitely tough little trees, they often start growing in any crack in the cement that has soil exposed.

At the train station there is a nice little forest with planted trees (many oaks, a few maples) and trees that grew spontaneously from seeds (oak, maple, elder). But no elm trees yet. Today I've emptied my bag of seeds there. We'll see if the seeds are as lively as the websites say.


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