Herb: Wych Elm

Latin name: Ulmus glabra

Synonyms: Ulmus campestris, Ulmus montana, Ulmus scabra

Family: Ulmaceae (Elm Family)

Medicinal use of Wych Elm:

The inner bark is astringent, demulcent and mildly diuretic. It is used both internally and externally in the treatment of diarrhoea, rheumatism, wounds, piles etc and is also used as a mouthwash in the treatment of ulcers. The inner bark is harvested from branches 3 - 4 years old and is dried for later use. The plant is used in Bach flower remedies - the keywords for prescribing it are "Occasional feelings of inadequacy", "Despondency" and "Exhaustion from over-striving for perfection". A homeopathic remedy is made from the inner bark. It is used in the treatment of eczema.

Description of the plant:


30 m
(98 feet)

to March

Habitat of the herb:

Woods, hedges and by streams, commoner in the west and north.

Edible parts of Wych Elm:

Leaves - raw or cooked. They can be a little bit bitter, especially if not very young, and have a mucilaginous texture. They make a nice addition to a mixed salad. Immature fruits, used just after they are formed, can be eaten raw. An aromatic, unusual flavour, leaving the mouth feeling fresh and the breath smelling pleasant. They contain about 34.4% protein, 28.2% fat, 17% carbohydrate, 5% ash. The fruit is about 2.5cm long. Inner bark - mucilaginous. No more details are given but inner bark is often dried, ground into a powder and then used as a thickening in soups etc or mixed with cereals when making bread.

Other uses of the herb:

A fibre from the inner bark is used for mats and making ropes. Wood - very durable under water, fairly hard, elastic, withstands abrasion and salt water. Used for water pipes, wheels, mallet heads, ships keels etc.

Propagation of Wych 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:

Woods, hedges and by streams, commoner in the west and north.

Known hazards of Ulmus glabra:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.