Ulmus rubra

Ulmus rubra,[2] the Slippery Elm, is a species of elm native to eastern North America (from southeast North Dakota, east to southern Quebec, south to northernmost Florida, and west to eastern Texas). It is similar to American Elm in general appearance, but more closely related to the European Wych Elm, which has a very similar flower structure. Other common names include Red Elm, Gray Elm, Soft Elm, Moose Elm and Indian Elm.


The Slippery Elm is a deciduous tree which can grow to 20 m in height with a 50 cm d.b.h.. The tree has a different branching pattern than American Elm, and its heartwood is reddish-brown, giving the tree its alternative common name ‘Red Elm’. The leaves are 10–18 cm long and have a rough texture, coarsely double-serrate margin and an oblique base. The perfect wind-pollinated apetalous flowers are produced before the leaves in early spring, usually in clusters of 10–20. The fruit is an oval winged samara 20 mm long and containing a single, central seed. Slippery Elm may be distinguished from American Elm by the hairiness of the buds and twigs (both smooth on the American Elm) and by its very short-stalked flowers.

Pests and diseases

The tree is reputedly less susceptible to Dutch elm disease than other American elms, but is severely damaged by the Elm Leaf Beetle Xanthogaleruca luteola [1].


Slippery Elm grows well in moisture-rich uplands, but it will also grow in dry, intermediate soils.[3]


Slippery Elm is a valuable tree that has many traditional uses. Whole bark has traditionally been used as an abortifacient – but not without serious consequences, such as death of the mother. Sometimes its leaves are dried and ground into a powder beforehand, then made into a tea. Both Slippery Elm gruel and tea are said to soothe the digestive tract.[4]According to Herbs and Natural Supplements: An Evidence-Based Guide, “Although Slippery Elm has not been scientifically investigated, the FDA has approved it as a safe demulcent substance.” [5]

{Information courtesy Wikipedia}