How to Identify Dead Elm Trees


Elm trees are large deciduous trees that provide excellent shade and lovely foliage throughout spring and summer. Elm trees however, are fragile and can easily be killed by diseases and pests. When an elm tree dies, it is important to identify it immediately and remove the tree to prevent it from spreading disease or dropping limbs onto property or people.

Step 1

Evaluate the tree for signs of illness and dying. Signs to watch for include little or no leaves in summertime or discolored leaves in spring and summer. Lack of leaves is a sign that the elm tree is not drawing nutrients from its roots and transporting them to its branches.

Step 2

Check for mushrooms. Morel mushrooms grow around the base of dying and dead elm trees because they feed on the bark that the tree is shedding.

Step 3

Diagnose any possible diseases. If the tree has discolored bark, no wintergreen odor in the winter and no leaves in the summer, it has contracted Dutch elm disease, the most common killer of elm trees.

Step 4

Cut into a limb with a sharp knife. If the wood underneath the bark is brown or black, then the tree's internal tissues have died off.

Things You'll Need

  • Sharp knife


  • USDA: How to Identify and Manage Dutch Elm Disease
  • University of Minnesota Extension: Native Elm Bark Beetle Control
  • Elm Care: Elms in General
Keywords: dead elm, diseased elm, morel mushrooms, Dutch elm disease

About this Author

Steven White is a privately contracted software engineer, web developer, and tech support representative. He has 3 years of experience providing technical support for AT&T broadband customers. He is currently a Master's of Software Engineering student and enjoys sharing his knowledge and expertise with others.