Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Slippery Elm Report

Slippery elm
Ulmus rubra Muhlenb.
At times this tree is also called red elm.

Ht up to 60' Has long trunk before deviding into branches. Has flat open crown.

Flowers Feb to April
Fruit: April to June usually 3/4" long. Has wing circling the seed with a notch at the top.
Leaves: Alternate, simple 4 - 8" long. 2-3" wide. Upper surface rough like sandpaper making the name of the tree seem like sarcasm.  But the name really comes from the inner bark which is sticky when chewed. The leaves are serrate like saw teeth. And the large teeth have smaller teeth. The tip of the tree is pointed and usually crooked. The upper surface has hairs that are stiff and below softer hairs.
Tea from the inner bark was used for coughs, and stomach problems. External bark was applied as a tea to fresh wounds, and burns.

The Indians used Slippery elm when paper birch was not available the bark was used for canoe shells.

Like American Elm, this tree is susceptible to Dutch elm disease and phloem necrosis.

Because of the long bole the tree, Slippery elm has the possibility of being used for lumber. It is listed in my "Missouri Woods" book by Robert Massengale.

The wood is of medium density, but for its weight has some strength.

The heartwood is reddish brown which would give the reason for the name of red elm. The texture of the wood is course but it machines with little difficulty  and bends easily. 

The wood is not easy to dry because of warping and shrinks a lot. There also seems to be a lot of ring shake. Ring shake is where the wood separates along where the annual rings were formed.

Notes came from:
 "Trees of Missouri" By Don Kurz
"Trees of Missouri" by  Carl Setternren and R.E. McDermott
"Missouri Woods" by Robert Massengale

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