City Beat

Huge old tree in Elmhurst enters final days

An elm tree on the T Street parkway near 41st Street in Sacramento is scheduled to be cut down because it is dying.
An elm tree on the T Street parkway near 41st Street in Sacramento is scheduled to be cut down because it is dying. pkitagaki@sacbee.com

The old tree in Elmhurst is coming down.

An enormous tree that has stood for decades on the T Street parkway near 41st Street in Sacramento is scheduled to be cut down in early July, city arborist Tim Dailey said. Dailey said it’s unclear whether the tree suffers from Dutch elm disease but that city crews have spent days cutting away dead branches from the tree.

The tree had been known for years by a 50-foot-long branch that curved toward the ground like a giant arm. That branch was removed last year due to fears that it would break off and injure someone.

Residents of Elmhurst have called the tree the “hugging tree” or “elbow tree” because of that branch. Families have posed in the tree’s shadow for holiday photographs, and generations of children climbed on its branches. Last spring, a couple was married under the tree, and their story was the subject of a column in The Sacramento Bee. Dailey said he thinks the tree could be 100 years old.

“I believe it might have Dutch elm,” Dailey said. “I just think it’s been fighting it off for so long that it’s dying piece by piece. It’s finally time (to cut it down).”

The region’s persistent drought conditions have also been brutal on trees, Dailey said. He said crews have been cutting away dried and dead limbs from trees all along T Street.

“These old mature elm trees, they’re struggling right now,” he said.

A notice was posted on the tree last week that it would be cut down some time after June 26. Dailey said the work would likely occur in the first two weeks of July.

The spot where the tree stands won’t be vacant for long. Dailey said city crews could plant another tree in its place as early as October.

“We have an aging urban forest, and people don’t like to see them go,” he said. “But the sooner we can plant a tree for the next generation, the better.”

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