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Home > Resources > North Carolina Trees > Slippery Elm

Slippery Elm

(Ulmus rubra Muhl)

  This large elm grows throughout North Carolina. While it grows best on moist, rich bottomlands, it also is found on drier, upland soils. It is uncommon above elevations of 1,800 feet. Slippery elm is less susceptible to Dutch Elm disease than is American elm.

Its leaves are broader, more rounded and much rougher on the upper surface than those of the very similar American elm. Oneyear-old twigs are ashy gray and rough; the buds are nearly black. These characteristics also distinguish Slippery elm from American elm.

Slippery elm fruit is similar to that of American elm but is larger and much less notched at the tip.

Slippery elm is a medium-sized tree, 60 to 70 feet tall and up to 2 1/2 feet in diameter. This elm takes its common name from its inner bark which is very slick or slippery. Its twigs may be chewed to reduce thirst, and its inner bark, when steeped in water, is a longused remedy for sore throats and fevers.
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