The National Mall in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
The American Elm that Grew Along with America
This American elm (Ulmus Americana) is one of the oldest and most majestic trees on the Smithsonian grounds. It was planted around 1850, well before the opening of the National Museum of Natural History in 1910. Known as the Smithsonian Witness Elm, this tree has seen many momentous events pass between the white House and U.S. Capitol during its lifetime.
Center Market venders staged along B street (now Constitution Avenue) in front of Natural History Building
Construction of National Archives Building on the former site of Center Market with Natural History Building in the background
View of National Mall (with Natural History Building and Center Market at top) before trees were cleared to return Washington to the L'Enfant plan.
Washington, D.C. Memorial Day parade. One of the many parades, marches, and heads of state that have passed by the Smithsonian Witness Elm
How big is it?
Trunk Circumference: 17.75 feet (5.4m)
Crown Spread: 116.5 feet (35.5m)
American elms are native to eastern North America and were planted extensively throughout the United States in the 1700s and 1800s. From the earliest plans for the National Mall, elm trees were the unifying element that linked the parks, avenues, and monument grounds. Around 1930, the devastating Dutch Elm Disease fungus was introduced to the U.S. and killed millions of elms throughout the country.
Today, great elms like this tree in front of you still persist, either through natural resistance to the disease, proactive maintenance and disease control programs, or a combination of both. This American elm is well cared for by the Smithsonian Gardens' staff and is the first tree catalogued in the Smithsonian Gardens Tree Collection, a living museum collection of thousands of trees.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Environment • Horticulture & Forestry. In addition, it is included in the Historic Trees series list.
Location. 38° 53.521′ N, 77° 1.452′ W. Marker is in The National Mall in Washington, District of Columbia. Marker is on Constitution Avenue Northwest (U.S. 50) west of 7th Street Northwest, on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 900 Constitution Avenue Northwest, Washington DC 20004, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Nathan Hale (within shouting distance of this marker); Temple for Our History (within shouting distance of this marker); Pollinator Profile: Hummingbirds (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); How can you help pollinators? (about 400 feet away); Where do pollinators live? (about 400 feet away); When does pollination happen? (about 400 feet away); Equal Justice Under the Law (about 400 feet away); Why is pollination important? (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in The National Mall.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 6, 2020. It was originally submitted on November 20, 2017, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 174 times since then and 24 times this year. Last updated on February 11, 2018, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on November 20, 2017, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.