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Posted on July 19th, 2022 in Forestry, How To, Woodlands | No Comments »

Drawing of a slippery elm leafThe classic and trusted book “Fifty Common Trees of Indiana” by T.E. Shaw was published in 1956 as a user-friendly guide to local species.  Nearly 70 years later, the publication has been updated through a joint effort by the Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Indiana 4-H, and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, and reintroduced as “An Introduction to Trees of Indiana.”

The full publication is available for download for $7 in the Purdue Extension Education Store. The field guide helps identify common Indiana woodlot trees.

Each week, the Intro to Trees of Indiana web series will offer a sneak peek at one species from the book, paired with an ID That Tree video from Purdue Extension forester Lenny Farlee to help visualize each species as it stands in the woods. Threats to species health as well as also insight into the wood provided by the species, will be provided through additional resources as well as the Hardwoods of the Central Midwest exhibit of the Purdue Arboretum, if available.

This week, we introduce the slippery elm or Ulmus rubra.

The slippery elm, also called red elm, is easily identified by its doubly-serrated simple leaves on short leaf stems, with a sandpapery upper surface. The bark features strong vertical ridges, which when sliced open feature alternating layers of tan and dark brown. The inner bark is slick, which gives the tree its name. The species also is called red elm due to its reddish heartwood.

Slippery elm has slightly larger leaves than its relative, the American elm, as well as a sandpapery texture on the leaves and twigs. The slippery elm is typically found more in upland areas, while the American elm is found in moist soil conditions such as valleys as well as river and creek bottoms.

Slippery elm can be found throughout much of the eastern and central United States, from Minnesota south into central Texas and as far west as central Kansas and Nebraska. Its range extends from northern Florida to Vermont along the east coast.

Like the American elm, which used to be a common street tree in Indiana, the number of slippery elms has dwindled due to Dutch elm disease, a fungal diseased which ravaged the species in the second half of the 20th century. Another disease called Elm Yellows (formerly phloem necrosis) also seriously affected slippery elms.

For full article with additional photos view: Intro to Trees of Indiana: Red Elm

Resources:
Elm, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Slippery Elm, Native Trees of Indiana River Walk, Purdue – Fort Wayne
Top 5 List for Tree Selection and Planting, Purdue Extension-Forestry & Natural Resources (FNR) Got Nature? Blog
Fifty Trees of the Midwest app for the iPhone
Native Trees of the Midwest, The Education Store, Purdue Extension’s resource center
Shrubs and Woody Vines of Indiana and the Midwest, The Education Store
ID That Tree, Purdue Extension-FNR’s YouTube playlist
Woodland Management Moment , Purdue Extension-FNR’s YouTube playlist
Investing in Indiana Woodlands, The Education Store
Forest Improvement Handbook, The Education Store

Wendy Mayer, FNR Communications Coordinator
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Lenny Farlee, Sustaining Hardwood Extension Specialist
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


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