“It had borers, and it has been declining for several years now,” he said.
Borers are insects that typically attack weak trees by cutting off water from the leaves, Bythell said.
The tree will be replaced with one or two new elm trees, Bythell said, adding that there are three or four other elm trees left on campus.
Beam said in an email that the tree survived an elm blight shortly after World War I, which killed many elm trees across the country.
Bythell donated two pieces of the tree’s bark to the North Carolina Collection in Wilson Library, he said.
Jay Gaidmore, University archivist, said in an email that the collection wanted to preserve a part of the tree.
“The piece of the elm helps us document the history of the campus in a different way,” Gaidmore said.
Linda Jacobson, keeper of the North Carolina Collection, said in an email that trees on campus have played a role in the life of the University for more than 200 years.
“Faculty, staff, students and alumni have demonstrated an interest in their preservation since the University’s inception,” she said, adding that the elm was featured on a poster last year for the gallery’s exhibition on campus trees.
“The loss of this old elm is particularly sad,” she said. “My understanding is that this was the oldest elm on campus.”
Beam said the landscape of the campus is very important to him, and the removal of the tree has been a shock.
“The trees in particular are what makes the campus so beautiful,” he said.
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