A deciduous tree 15-20 m (50- 65 ft.) in height, it has dark-brown, rough bark and obviate, toothed, deeply-veined leaves. Inconspicuous clusters of red-stammered flowers are followed by reddish-brown, winged fruits.
History and traditions
The common name is taken from the slippery texture of the inner bark when moistened. It was a traditional medicine of Native Americans, used mainly for gastric problems and healing wounds, and was taken up by early settlers, who made the powdered bark into a nutritious gruel for invalids with weak digestions.
This tree grows well in poorish soil and is propagated by seed or cuttings. It is liable to Dutch elm disease.
Inner bark dried and ground into powder. (Bark should not be stripped from wild trees, which are becoming rare, only from those cultivated for the purpose.)
Rich in mucilage, slippery elm powder is taken for stomach and bowel disorders, gastric ulcers, cystitis and urinary complaints. It is soothing to sore throats and applied in poultices for skin inflammations, boils, abscesses and ulcers and to encourage the healing of wounds.