This section is from the book "A Few Suggestions On Tree Planting", by C. S. Sargent.
The Common European Elm (Ulmus Campestris, L) was introduced into Massachusetts more than a century ago. According to Dr. Shurt-leff,* Maj. Paddock, a carriage-builder by trade, and therefore probably fully aware of the economic value of the tree, planted the row of English elms in front of the Granary Burying-ground in Boston about the year 1762, and as the trees had been grown in a nursery at Milton for some time previous to their being planted in Boston, it is not improbable that they were imported fully a hundred and twenty-five years ago. In spite of the hard treatment which seems the destiny of all trees intrusted to the care of our city fathers, one of the row had in 1860 reached, according to Dr. ShurtlefPs measurement, the respectable size of twelve feet eight inches in circumference at three feet from the sidewalk. Other trees of this importation were doubtless planted in the neighborhood of Boston, and I have recently measured two growing in Jamaica Plain which could not have been planted much later. One of these, at four feet from the ground, measures seventeen feet two inches in circumference, and the other sixteen feet ten inches at three feet.
Several trees in Brookline, which were planted in 1805, when they might have been ten years old, are now eighty feet high, and average from eight feet to eight feet six inches in circumference at three feet from the ground. It would, from these examples, seem that the European elm not only grows rapidly in the eastern part of the State, but promises to attain its largest dimensions and full span of life. I have been unable to compare satisfactorily the rapidity of its growth with that of the American elm, but probably in its best condition the latter is of far more rapid growth, although in the ordinary situations where the elm is planted, and where it generally sutlers from insufficiency of root-moisture, the European elm is immeasurably its superior in rapidity of growth, length of life, and general thriftiness. The fact that the European is fully a month longer in leaf than the American elm, that its tougher leaves would seem to offer a less appetizing food to the canker-worm, the greatest enemy of the American elm in New England, and its adaptability to all situations, arc strong arguments in favor of giving the preference to the former for general cultivation.
Its thriftiness in smoky situations makes the European elm the most valuable tree our climate will allow for city street and square planting, and as a shade-tree by roadsides, no American tree is its equal.
*Topographical and Historical Description of Boston. Nathaniel B. Shurtleff. Boston, 1872.
The economic value of the wood of the European, which is hard and fine, has always been generally acknowledged to be superior to that of the American elm, and in Europe it is devoted to many important uses. For the hubs of carriage-wheels, it is used almost to the exclusion of all other wood. If employed in situations where it is constantly under water, or kept perfectly dry, it excels almost every other wood in durability. It is considered the best timber for ships' keels. It is largely used for ships' blocks, and for pumps, piles, and water-pipes, and by the turner and cabinet-maker; and by the coffin-maker it is preferred to all other woods. The general cultivation of the European elm would add a valuable timber-tree to the products of Massachusetts.
As timber-trees, some of the willows deserve more attention than they have hitherto received in this country, for, although the white willow (Salix alba, L.) has for many years been planted in Massachusetts for ornamental purposes, its economic value has been entirely overlooked. It grows rapidly here, reaching its largest size and developing its best qualities. By the side of the highway leading from Stockbridge to Great Barrington, in Berkshire County,, there is a willow which,at four feet from the ground, girts twenty-one feet eight inches, and which, according to a popular tradition of the neighborhood, was brought in the form of a riding-switch by a person travelling from Connecticut, and planted where it now stands, in the year 1807. According to Newlands,* Salix fragillis, L., or as it was more commonly known, Salix Busselliana. Smith (the Duke of Bedford's willow), produces the most valuable timber of any of the family, the common white willow coming next. I am not aware that the Duke of Bedford's willow has ever been introduced into this State; but as the two species have the same geographical range, and grow naturally under precisely similar conditions, there is no doubt that it can be successfully cultivated in any part of Massachusetts. Few trees grow more rapidly than the willow, or adapt themselves to a greater variety of soil. It has been general in this State to select low, undrained situations, beside streams or stagnant ditches, for planting this tree, but it is equally suited to high, exposed places, and poor soil, where, however, its growth will be naturally less rapid. In Europe, the timber of the willow I have referred to is used for many purposes. Newlands says it is " sawn into boards for flooring, and into scantlings for rafters; and in the latter capacity, when kept dry and ventilated, it has been known to last one hundred years. But the purposes more peculiarly its own arc such as require lightness, pliancy, elasticity, and toughness, all of which qualities it possesses in an eminent degree. It also endures long in water, and therefore is in request for paddle-wheel floats, and for the shrouding of water-wheels. It is used in lining carts for conveying stones or other heavy material, as it does not splinter; and the same quality renders it fit for guard posts or fenders." Turners and tray-makers find many uses for willow-wood, and it is employed in making shoe-lasts, light ladders, and the handles of light agricultural implements. Its incombustibility is so great that it is peculiarly suited for the flooring of buildings intended to be lire-proof, and attention has been recently called to its value for such purposes. As willow timber could be produced far more cheaply than that of any of our native trees, it would soon come into general use here for the purposes for which it seems particularly fitted, and for which more valuable woods are now employed.