Elm seeds everywhere: Yes, more this year.

Published: May. 13, 2019 at 6:52 PM PDT
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Those little round seed pods, blowing everywhere in the slightest breeze. They're not an uncommon sight every spring, but this spring there's an uncommon number of them.

They're elm seeds. And you can blame our wet winter.

It seems when there's a lot of moisture, it's a signal for the trees to try to make a lot more little trees. If you're saying right now 'Wait a minute, I remember seeing a lot of them in a dry year too.' you're absolutely right.

"When they're stressed out they send out seeds, as well, to procreate more," says Dale Carlon, a consulting arborist for the Truckee Meadows Water Authority.."Either way. They're opportunistic. This is an indicator of an environmental influence on the trees whether it be good or bad."

It may seem like a minor nuisance, littering the ground, clogging the gutters. The real impact comes later.

"They're perfectly suited to digging into little nooks and crannies," says Carlon. "They get a little moisture and off they go."

And in a matter of a few years you end up with a healthy tree growing where it shouldn't.

"It's going to jack up the sidewalk. It's going to wreck the fences. And when the go to paint, it's going to be pretty hard to paint, plus the damage to the siding."

At this point you might be asking if they're so much trouble why do we even have them? Carlon says here's some history to the answer.

"Back in the day there was a very limited palette of deciduous trees and evergreen trees that we could landscape with and elms just happened to be a real hardy version of a tree that got real big and provided a lot of shade. So that's why it was utilized."

And the elms readily available at that time were primarily Siberian elms. American elms, which you will see at St. Mary's or on the University campus are less mess, less trouble. No one's planting much of either one these days. Elms are forbidden on municipal property.

"But as far as an urban forester in either Reno or Sparks going into your yard and telling you you can't plant something, that's not the case. We would discourage you from it of course, but we're not going to bother you about it."

Carlon's quick to add there are problems associated with a lot of different species. And the elm does have a lot to recommend it. Without their shade Reno would be an uncomfortable place in the heat of summer.

But if you don't want them showing up in your flower bed or growing up through the crack in your sidewalk, you have a chore ahead of you.

It's best, Carlon says to bag them up like you would any yard waste and dispose of them. Blowing them into the street just sends the problem elsewhere.

Copyright KOLO-TV 2019