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Slippery elm (Not recommended)

A mature specimen fo slippery elm.

Due to susceptibility to Dutch elm disease (DED), slippery elm is not recommended for planting anywhere in this region and usually require removal and/or replacement. 

"This species is native to the Chicago Region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research."  

Botanical name:

Ulmus rubra

All common names:

slippery elm

Family (English):


Family (Botanic):


Tree or Plant Type:

  • Tree


  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)

Native Locale:

  • Chicago area,
  • Illinois,
  • North America

Size Range:

  • Large tree (more than 40 feet)

Mature Height:

40-60 feet

Mature Width:

30-50 feet

Light Exposure:

  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

  • Zone 3,
  • Zone 4,
  • Zone 5 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7,
  • Zone 8,
  • Zone 9

Soil Preference:

  • Moist, well-drained soil


  • Dry sites,
  • Wet sites,
  • Alkaline soil,
  • Clay soil,
  • Road salt

Acid Soils:

  • Tolerant

Alkaline Soils:

  • Tolerant

Salt Spray:

  • Moderately Tolerant

Soil Salt:

  • Moderately Tolerant

Drought Conditions:

  • Moderately Tolerant

Poor Drainage:

  • Moderately Tolerant

Seasons of Interest:

  • mid fall

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Inconspicuous

Shape or Form:

  • Vase-shaped

Growth Rate:

  • Fast

Transplants Well:

  • No


  • Browsers,
  • Migrant birds,
  • Small mammals,
  • Songbirds

More Information:

Tree & Plant Care

Do not prune elm trees between mid-April and mid-October

Disease, pests, and problems

Due to susceptibility to Dutch elm disease (DED), slippery elm is not recommended for planting anywhere in this region.

Disease, pest, and problem resistance

Tolerant of black walnut toxicity.

Native geographic location and habitat

C-Value: 4

Bark color and texture 

Bark is gray, ridged and furrowed. 

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Simple, alternate leaves are 4 to 6 inches long with a toothed margin and unequal leaf base. 
Leaves are dark green in summer, changing to yellow in fall.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Small, inconspicuous flowers in spring.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Fruit is a seed surrounded by a circular wafer-like wing.



Location of Ulmus rubra (Slippery elm (Not recommended)) at the Arboretum

We do not seem to have this in our living collection.