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Slippery Elm

Register • May 6, 2014 at 12:39 PM


(Ulmus rubra) (sometimes referred to as U. fulva)

          This American elm is called “Slippery” for a good reason. This native tree was once used extensively by the Native Americans and introduced to the colonists as a soothing agent, a cough remedy, and a wound treatment because of its abundant mucilage content. Mucilage is defined as a “gelantinous substance of various plants that contains protein and polysaccharides and is similar to plant gums. (1) This mucilage “slips” down the throat, and the entire alimentary tract while cooling, soothing, and repairing all inflammations. The bark of this tree was used to retard spoilage of meat before refrigeration (2), and gave nutrition and sustenance when no other food was available. Slippery elm trees are susceptible to Dutch elm disease, and are now on the “Species-at-risk” list of the United Plant Saver’s website. (3) It has also been called Red elm, Indian elm, and Moose elm depending on the area or culture of the individual.

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