Slippery Elm

Ulmus rubra


Other Names:
Red Elm, Gray Elm, Moose Elm, Indian Elm

Slippery Elm is a native tree found throughout Virginia. The seeds are eaten by a variety of birds; because the seeds are available late in the spring, they are an important food source when the seeds from other trees are in short supply. The sap is popular with Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers. The foliage is eaten by numerous butterflies, including the Mourning Cloak, Eastern Comma, and Question Mark. The wood has little commercial value, but Native Americans sometimes used it to make canoes, and the yoke holding the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia is made from it. Slippery Elm has been used widely for medical purposes, and extracts are still being sold as dietary supplements. Slippery Elm tablets used to be chewed by some baseball pitchers to enhance the curve when they threw spitballs.

Identification Tools

Illinois Wildflowers Friends of the Wildflower Garden Carolina Nature Go Botany Ohio Division of Forestry


North America Virginia

White Ash Tree
Slippery Elm leaves

White Ash seeds
The tips of Slippery Elm leaves are long and narrow.

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