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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.

  • Family (English) Elm
  • Family (botanic) Ulmaceae
  • Tree or plant type Tree
  • Foliage 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 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Clay soil, Dry sites, Road salt, Wet sites
  • Season of interest mid fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous
  • Shape or form Vase-shaped
  • Growth rate Fast
  • Transplants well No
  • Wildlife Browsers, Migrant birds, Small mammals, Songbirds
  • Has cultivars No

Native geographic location and habitat:

Slippery elm is native to much of the eastern and central United States. 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 bloom in spring.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions: 

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

Plant care:

Do not prune elm trees between mid-April and mid-October to avoid transmission of Dutch elm disease.  

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances: 

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


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