Slippery Elm

Ulmus rubra Muhl.




All photographs are copyrighted and are the property of E. Brunner.

Family:  Ulmaceae

Native or Introduced to Illinois:  native

Natural Habit in Illinois:  Found in open wooded bluffs and rocky woods.

Leaf:  Alternate, 4 to 7 inches long, 2 to 3 inches wide, margin coarsely and sharply doubly serrated, base of leaf conspicuously inequilateral; upper surface very scabrous, slightly scabrous or hairy beneath.

Flower:  Appears March to May before leaves open.

Fruit:  Appears May to June, 3/4 to 1 inch across, margin and surface of wing smooth; surface of seed cavity pubescent.

Twig:   Often stouter than American elm, slightly zigzag; ashy gray to brownish gray, often scabrous; lateral buds dark, chestnut brown to nearly black; buds may be rusty-hairy, twigs mucilaginous when chewed.

Bark:  Dark reddish-brown, does not show buff-colored patches or streaks when sectioned; bark fissures not as diamond-shaped as American elm; inner bark mucilaginous.

Size/Form/Shape:   This graceful, arching tree reaches 20 m, with twigs that are scabrous-pubescent.  It can live to be 200 years old and is identified by its "slippery" inner bark. 

County Distribution Map for Illinois:  


Sources for the Sullivan Middle School Tree Identification Guide were obtained though the use of the following sites: