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Ulmus fulva


Ulmus fulva


No documentation

Vernacular Name

Slippery Elm, Native Elm, Moose Elm, Red Elm, Indian Elm, Rock Elm, American Elm.


Though it typically grows best in moist soils, Ulmus fulva can be found in drier climates, as well. The tree grows quickly to a maximum height of 40 m. Between the months of February and May, U. fulva produces small, short-stalked, perfect flowers from the buds of the twig. The leaves grow to roughly 18 cm long and have jagged edges. The pubescence on the buds and twigs make the plant distinguishable from other Elm species.

Origin / Habitat

U. fulva is a species of the deciduous elm tree native to North America ranging from Maine and southern Quebec to eastern North Dakota; from northern Texas to northern Georgia.(1)

Chemical Constituents

Mucilage (D-galactose, L-rhamnose and D-galacturonic acid), Cholesterol, campesterol, beta-sitosterol, sesquiterpenes, tannins.(2),(3)

Plant Part Used

Bark, root. (5),(8)

Traditional Use

U. fulvais commonly used as a gastrointestinal tonic, thought to relieve catarrh of the digestive and urinary tracks, as well as any disease effecting internal mucous membranes of the stomach, kidney and bowel.(4) The Cherokee found use as both an antidiarrheal,(5) and a laxative, suggesting its general regulating effect on the digestive system.(6) Additionally, the Dakota, Omaha, Pawnee, Ponca, and Winnebago tribes all use U. fulvaas a laxative.(7) Along with the Cherokee, the Iroquois(8) and the Ojibwa(9) tribes found use in U. fulvaas gastrointestinal aid. In this instance, the Cherokee and Iroquois used the bark as the medicinal part, while the Ojibwa used an infusion of the whole plant.

In numerous instances, the bark of U. fulvahas been used to treat throat ailments. The Cherokee(6), Chippewa,(10) Iroquois(8), and Ojibwa(11) tribes suggest either chewing of the root or a decoction of the root to east many common throat disorders. The bark has also been used to ease and alleviate coughing, and in some cases, tuberculosis, by the Cherokee(6) and Mohegan(12) tribes. The Cherokee, as well as the Iroquois, also used U. fulvaas a respiratory aid to promote general respiratory health.(8)

In cases of sores and wounds on the skin, a poultice was made from the bark and applied directly to the wounds by people in the Cherokee,(6) Menominee,(13) Meskwaki,(14) and Micmac,(15) most likely due to its ability to draw toxins from a wound. The Ojibwa tribe used an infusion of the roots as an antiseptic wash for cuts on the foot.(9)

U. fulvahas also been used as a gynecological aid, specifically to ease the process of childbirth, by the Alabama,(5) Cherokee,(5) Iroquois(8) and Meskwaki(8) tribes. With the exception of the Meskwaki, who used a decoction of the root, a decoction of the bark was used to produce the desired effects for women’s health.


Dosages and preparations vary by tribe and region.

Tea – three to four grams of powdered bark steeped in hot water one to three times per day.

Topical application – Poultices are prepared by soaking the bark pieces in water until the mixture thickens.



The mucilage in the plant is responsible for its use in soothing mucous membranes of the throat, stomach and intestines. Many of the studies published are on a product known as Essiac, which is a combination of U. fulva and several other herbs. Studies on the individual use of U. fulva are limited.

Several small laboratory studies have investigated the anti-inflammatory activity of Slippery Elm(16),(17) as well as its antioxidant properties.(18)


No documentation

Interaction and Depletions

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation

Interaction with Drugs

No documentation

Precautions and Contraindications

Side effects

Generally considered to be safe.


Not to be used by pregnant or nursing women.

Age limitation

No documentation

Adverse reaction

No documetation

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  1)  Western Herbs


  1. Schuster WS. Changes in composition, structure and aboveground biomass over seventy-six years (1930-2006) in the Black Rock Forest, Hudson Highlands, southeastern New York State. Tree Physiol. 2008 Apr;28(4):537-549.
  2. Hough L. Chemical constitution of Slippery Elm Mucilage: isolation of 3-Methyl d-galactose from the hydrolysis products. Nature. 1950;165(4184);34-35.
  3. Bacon JS. Apiose and mono-O-methyl sugars as minor constituents of the leaves of deciduous trees and various other species. Biochem J. 1971 Sep;124(3):555-562.
  4. Hutchens A. Indian herbalogy of North America. Boston, MA: Shambala; 1991.
  5. Taylor, Linda Averill. Plants used as curatives by certain southeastern Tribes. Cambridge, MA: Botanical Museum of Harvard University; 1940.
  6. Hamel, Paul B, Mary U. Chiltoskey. Cherokee plants and their uses - a 400 year history. Sylva, N.C: Herald Publishing Co.; 1975.
  7. Gilmore, Melvin R. Uses of plants by the Indians of the Missouri river region. SI-BAE Annual Report. 1919:33.
  8. Moerman DE. Native American Ethnobotany. Portland OR: Timber Press; 2009.
  9. Reagan, Albert B. Plants used by the Bois Fort Chippewa (Ojibwa) Indians of Minnesota. Wisconsin Archeologist. 1928;7(4):230-248.
  10. Densmore, Frances. Uses of plants by the Chippewa Indians. SI-BAE Annual Report. 1928;44:273-379.
  11. Smith, Huron H. Ethnobotany of the Ojibwe Indians. Bulletin of the Public Museum of Milwaukee. 1932;4:327-525.
  12. Tantaquidgeon, Gladys. Folk medicine of the Delaware and Related Algonkian Indians. Harrisburg: Pennsylvania Historical Commission Anthropological Papers. 1972; p. 3.
  13. Smith, Huron H. Ethnobotany of the Menomini Indians. Bulletin of the Public Museum of the City of Milwaukee. 1923;4:1-174.
  14. Smith, Huron H. Ethnobotany of the Meskwaki Indians. Bulletin of the Public Museum of the City of Milwaukee. 1928;4:175-326.
  15. Chandler R. Frank LF, Shirley NH. Herbal remedies of the Maritime Indians. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 1979;1:49-68.
  16. NAL. Hybrid protocols plus natural treatments for inflammatory conditions. Posit Health News. 1998;17:16-18.
  17. Langmead L. Antioxidant effects of herbal therapies used by patients with inflammatory bowel disease: an in vitro study. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2002 Feb;16(2):197-205.
  18. Choi HR. Peroxynitrite scavenging activity of herb extracts. Phytother Res. 2002 Jun;16(4):364-367.

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