Herb: American Elm


Latin name: Ulmus americana


Synonyms: Ulmus floridana


Family: Ulmaceae (Elm Family)



Medicinal use of American Elm:

An infusion made from the bark has been used in the treatment of bleeding from the lungs, ruptures, coughs, colds, influenza, dysentery, eye infections, cramps and diarrhoea. An infusion of the bark has been taken by pregnant women to secure stability of children. A decoction of the bark has been used as a wash on wounds. A decoction of the inner bark has been taken in the treatment of severe coughs, colds, menstrual cramps. An infusion of the inner bark has been drunk, and used as a bath, in the treatment of appendicitis. An infusion of the root bark has been used in the treatment of coughs, colds and excessive menstruation. A decoction has been used as an eye wash in the treatment of sore eyes. The inner bark has been used as an emollient on tumours.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Deciduous
Tree

Height:
25 m
(82 feet)

Flovering:
May

Habitat of the herb:

Rich soils, especially by streams and in lowlands. Found on a range of soil types, from acidic to mildly alkaline.

Edible parts of American Elm:

Leaves - raw or cooked. The red inner bark has been used to make a coffee-like drink.

Other uses of the herb:

A fibre obtained from the stems is used in making paper. The stems are harvested in spring, the leaves are removed and the stems steamed until the fibres can be stripped. The outer bark is removed from the inner bark by scraping or peeling. The fibres are cooked for 2 hours with lye and then beaten with mallets. The paper is beige in colour. The inner bark is very fibrous and is used in making string and strong ropes. The bark has been used to make various containers, including those used for gathering maple syrup. Wood - hard, strong, heavy, durable, coarse grained, shrinks moderately though it tends to warp and twist, it bends well and is difficult to split. The wood is very durable in water. It weighs 40lb per cubic foot and is harvested commercially for flooring, wheel hubs, cooperage, agricultural implements and many other uses.

Propagation of American Elm:

Seed - if sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe, it usually germinates within a few days. Stored seed does not germinate so well and should be sown in early spring. The seed can also be harvested "green" (when it has fully developed but before it dries on the tree) and sown immediately in a cold frame. It should germinate very quickly and will produce a larger plant by the end of the growing season. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Plants should not be allowed to grow for more than two years in a nursery bed since they form a tap root and will then move badly. Layering of suckers or coppiced shoots.

Cultivation of the herb:

Rich soils, especially by streams and in lowlands. Found on a range of soil types, from acidic to mildly alkaline.

Known hazards of Ulmus americana:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.