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Slippery Elm, Red Elm

Ulmus rubra

Family: Ulmaceae (ulm-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Ulmus (ULM-us) (Info)
Species: rubra (ROO-bruh) (Info)
Synonym:Ulmus fulva



Water Requirements:

Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


over 40 ft. (12 m)


over 40 ft. (12 m)


USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)

USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

7.9 to 8.5 (alkaline)

Patent Information:

Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:

From softwood cuttings

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

By grafting

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Champaign, Illinois

Glen Ellyn, Illinois

Valparaiso, Indiana

Denison, Iowa

Iowa City, Iowa

Benton, Kentucky

Calvert City, Kentucky

Coushatta, Louisiana

Middletown, Ohio

West Chester, Pennsylvania

Richland Springs, Texas

Lexington, Virginia

Appleton, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Aug 5, 2015, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

Slippery Elm is still common in various spots around the Midwest and East US. It oftentimes is a weed tree in rough or abandoned areas or fence rows in and around towns, self-sowing a lot, and I'm sure outrunning the Dutch Elm Disease all by itself and working on selecting its own resistant population. It is similar to the American Elm, but does not get as big and does not have as strong a vase-like habit. Its leaves are large (to 7" long x 3" wide) and very rough to touch. Conventional horticulture has not used it or grown it in nurseries. I still think it looks good as a mature tree. Native from southeast Ontario to Texas to Minnesota thru most of Georgia. It gets its name of "Slippery" from its slippery inner bark that was used to relieve sore throats.


On May 17, 2013, plant_it from Valparaiso, IN wrote:

Beautiful tree. It's native to eastern North America (from southeast North Dakota, east to Maine and southern Quebec, south to northernmost Florida, and west to eastern Texas).

Slippery elm may be distinguished from American elm by the hairiness of its buds and twigs (both smooth on the American elm) and by its very short-stalked flowers.

The yoke of the Liberty Bell was made from Slippery Elm.


On Aug 4, 2008, PatriotSniper from Las Vegas, NV wrote:

The slimy inner bark is one of the 4 main ingredients for Essiac Tea. Essiac Tea is an old indian remedy for fighting cancer.


On Feb 6, 2006, raisedbedbob from Walkerton, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

The slimy inner bark makes a pleasant tea when steeped for 15 minutes in hot water; dried and ground it yields a nutritious flour.


On Jul 7, 2004, melody from Benton, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

A 40 to 60 foot tree at maturity, Slippery Elms were once used as a scurvy preventative when the slimy inner bark was dried and ground into flour. It was reportedly also used to allay thirst and hunger when pieces of the bark were chewed.

Attractive to wild life, rabbits, porcupines and deer like the bark also.