Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra, syn. U. fulva) is a species of elm with noted medicinal properties. Most similar to American Elm, it covers roughly the same range but is less susceptible to Dutch elm disease and has a different branching pattern. The heartwood is reddish-brown, giving the tree another common name, Red Elm. Other names include Gray Elm, Soft Elm, Moose Elm and Indian Elm.
The Slippery Elm is a deciduous tree reaching 10-20 m tall and 50 cm trunk diameter. The leaves are 10-18 cm long, with a rough texture, coarsely double-serrate margin and an oblique base. The flowers are produced before the leaves in early spring, in clusters of 10-20; the fruit is an oval winged samara 2 cm long containing a single seed in the centre. Slippery Elm may be distinguished from American Elm by the hairiness of the buds and twigs (American Elm has smooth buds and twigs), and by the flowers being very short-stalked.
The inner bark contains a mucilage that helps to soothe sore throats. It may be dried and ground to a powder, then made into a tea. Either the tea or the gruel may be used to soothe the digestive tract as well, such as with irritable bowel syndrome or gastritis. There are no known contraindications for Slippery Elm, since it consists mainly of mucilage and various nutrients; it is not a drug.
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