A modern reference to temperate woody plants, including updated content from this site and much new material, can be found at Trees and Shrubs Online.

Ulmus rubra Muhl.

Slippery or red elm

Modern name

Ulmus rubra Muhl.


U. fulva Michx.

A tree 60 to 70 ft high, with a trunk up to 2 ft thick, supporting a spreading head of branches; young shoots very downy; winter buds 14 in. long, covered with brown hairs. Leaves oblong-ovate, 3 to 8 in. (sometimes in young trees 10 in.) long, about half as wide, abruptly tapered to a long, slender point, obliquely rounded at the base, jaggedly or doubly toothed, upper surface very harsh to the touch through minute excrescences, lower surface downy; stalk 14 to 13 in. long. Flowers very short-stalked and crowded in clusters. Samaras orbicular or obovate, 13 to 34 in. long, slightly notched at the top, the part covering the seed (which is in the centre) coated with red-brown hairs, naked elsewhere.

A native of N. America, with a similar distribution to that of U. americana. It does not thrive in this country. Elwes and Henry knew of no good specimen, and the last tree to be planted at Kew attained only 38 × 214 ft in sixty years. It is not planted for ornament in its native country, and is very subject there to Dutch elm disease. The popular name ‘slippery elm’ refers to the mucilaginous inner bark, which was used by the early settlers as a thirst quencher, and as a remedy for throat inflammations.



Other species in the genus