Arboretum: Haverford Elm Replanted in Ancestral Home
Haverford's elm is replanted in Penn Treaty Park.
The College Arboretum donated one of the Orchard Lot elms to Philadelphia's Penn Treaty Park, site of the 1682 treaty between William Penn and the Lenape people. Haverford's elm is a descendant of the original American elm under which the treaty was made.
Although the sturdy little elm tree next to the Orchard Parking Lot had made Haverford its home for 15 years, Staff Horticulturist Carol Wagner wasn’t sad to see it go. “I was very proud to know that something I had raised was going to a place of importance,” she says.
That place is Philadelphia’s Penn Treaty Park, located near Penn’s Landing and the Delaware River. At this site in 1682, William Penn entered into a treaty with the Lenape tribe under the shade of an American elm, several of whose descendants have stood tall on Haverford’s campus for 170 years. This spring, the College Arboretum donated one of the Orchard Lot elms—a great-great-grandchild of the original elm—to Penn Treaty Park to replace another elm descendant that had recently died.
As Wagner (who coordinated the tree’s transfer) and Arboretum Director Bill Astifan looked on, Haverford’s elm was scooped from the ground by a tree spade. The machine’s four large spades, similar to garden shovels, circled the tree and lifted it by sliding its curved blades into the earth. The tree was then transported to Penn Treaty Park, where it was set in a new, pre-dug hole. Afterwards, Pastor John Norwood, a member of the Nanticoke Lenni Lenape Tribal Council, provided a traditional ceremonial blessing for the elm.
Because the tree it replaces was likely killed by Dutch Elm Disease, Haverford’s elm had to be planted in a different location from its relative. “Dutch Elm Disease can be transmitted through root contact,” says Wagner. “If any of the dead tree’s roots were diseased, the new tree could be infected from its root system.”
The “Penn Treaty” elm first came to Haverford in 1840, when a scion of the original tree was planted on Founders Green. In the early 1900s, seven shoots from that tree were planted on Barclay Beach. Six of these trees eventually succumbed to Dutch Elm Disease; the seventh still stands proud.
The Arboretum had previously donated elms to Penn Treaty Park in 1982 and 2000. Wagner chose the Orchard Lot elm for this year’s donation because, she says, of its “beautiful shape” and “good branching structure.”
“It will grow into a beautiful specimen for the park,” she says.