Herb: English Elm

Latin name: Ulmus procera

Synonyms: Ulmus campestris, Ulmus glabra pubescens, Ulmus surculosa

Family: Ulmaceae (Elm Family)

Medicinal use of English Elm:

The dried inner bark is anti-inflammatory, astringent, demulcent, mildly diuretic, resolvent, tonic and vulnerary. 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 sap has been used in the treatment of baldness. The leaves are astringent and have been powdered then used in the treatment of haemorrhoids. A decoction is used to treat reddened and inflamed skin as well as to relieve various skin disorders. 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 as an astringent and as a treatment for eczema.

Description of the plant:


35 m
(115 feet)

to March

Habitat of the herb:

Hedgerows, by woods and roads, less frequent in the north.

Edible parts of English 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 - 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. Inner bark - cooked. A mucilaginous texture. It can be dried, ground into a powder and then used as a thickening in soups etc or mixed with cereals when making bread. A tea is made from the leaves.

Other uses of the herb:

A fibre from the inner bark is very tough. It is used for making mats and ropes. Tannin and a dyestuff are obtained from the inner bark. No details of the colour are given. Wood - close-grained, free from knots, very durable under water, fairly hard, elastic, withstands abrasion and salt water, but does not take a high polish. It is used for water pipes, wheels, mallet heads, ships keels etc and is a good firewood.

Propagation of English Elm:

Seed - if sown in a cold frame or outdoor seedbed as soon as ripe it usually germinates in a few days. A high proportion of the seed is not viable but seed is normally freely produced and can be sown thickly to take into account the poor viability. Stored seed does not germinate so well and should be sown in early spring. 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:

Hedgerows, by woods and roads, less frequent in the north.

Known hazards of Ulmus procera:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.