Question: What’s the difference between a linden and an elm tree?

Answer: Don’t know, ask the Edgartown selectmen.

This week the selectmen in the shire town approved a request by a new homeowner to remove four old shade trees on South Water street in Edgartown.

One of the trees, a sycamore, was generally agreed to be diseased. Three others are elms. An arborist hired by the homeowner opined that the old elms are at the end of their life anyway, and should come down. The new homeowners have offered to put in new trees, the arborist said.

But town tree warden Stuart Fuller said the elms, all about fifty feet tall, are in fair shape. Save at least one of the elms, Mr. Stuart advised, noting that no replacement tree can replicate the quality of its shade.

The verdict? Down they come, ruled selectmen Margaret Serpa and Arthur Smadbeck. Four shade trees gone, on a street whose graceful trees includes a historic pagoda brought back from the far east in a flowerpot during the whaling era.

Isn’t this the same town that was embroiled in a ten-year lawsuit to save the linden tree in front of the Yellow House on Main street?

Again, the question arises, what’s the difference between a linden and an elm?