Herb: Chinese Elm

Latin name: Ulmus parvifolia

Synonyms: Ulmus chinensis

Family: Ulmaceae (Elm Family)

Medicinal use of Chinese Elm:

The leaves are antidote and lithontripic. The stem bark is demulcent, diuretic, expectorant, febrifuge, hypnotic and lithontripic. The flowers are used in the treatment of fevers and neuritis.

Description of the plant:


18 m
(59 feet)

to October

Habitat of the herb:

Rich soil and near water courses in W. China at elevations below 800 metres.

Edible parts of Chinese Elm:

Leaves - raw or cooked. Immature fruits, used just after they are formed - raw or cooked. An aromatic, unusual flavour, leaving the mouth feeling fresh and the breath smelling pleasant. It contains about 34.4% protein, 28.2% fat, 17% carbohydrate, 5% ash. Inner bark - cooked. A mucilaginous texture. 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:

Fairly resistant to maritime exposure, it can be grown in a shelter belt.

Propagation of Chinese 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. One to two months stratification can improve germination rates. 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 soil and near water courses in W. China at elevations below 800 metres.

Known hazards of Ulmus parvifolia:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.