Wych Elm (Ulmus glabra)

The Wych Elm (Ulmus glabra) is a hardy, deciduous tree that flowers from February to March, and has seeds that ripen from May to June.

  • Wych Elm  -  Ulmus Glabra  -  Leaves
  • Wych Elm  -  Ulmus Glabra  -  Mature Tree

Useful info about Wych Elm trees

Latin NameUlmus glabra
TypeDeciduous (loses its leaves in winter)
HeightCan grow up to 30m (98ft)
SpreadThe branches can spread out to 25m (82ft)
Soil Types PreferredChalk, Clay, Sand
Locations SuitableFarmland, Gardens, Hedgerows, Parks
FlowersRed / purple flowers in early spring
FruitSeeds ripen in early summer


The flowers of the Wych Elm tree are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Wind. It is noted for attracting wildlife.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, requires well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure. It can tolerate atmospheric pollution.

Unlike the English elm this tree is native to Britain and is found especially in Scotland. Wych elm is reproduced by seed and not by suckering so it is more resistant to Dutch elm disease than English elm.

In areas where the disease is no longer prevalent planting may be worthwhile again. The timber is stronger than oak and there is now a serious shortage of it. Trees tolerate exposure to cold, air pollution and sea winds pretty well. Most lowland soils suit it very well and it also grows some way up Scottish mountain sides.

As with most elms, the fruit is a seed with papery wings, to carry it away from the tree.

It has clusters of tiny, red flowers in spring / summer.

Wych elms aren't names after witches. "Wych" was an old English wordy for "bendy". Its flexible wood was used for making cartwheels and water pipes.

Its leaves are wery large, hard and green with long points and toothed edges. The leaves grow up to 18cm (7 inches) long and turn a distinctive yellow in autumn.

The bark of the Wych Elm tree is ridged and grey-brown in colour.


A fibre from the inner bark is used for mats and making ropes.

The wood is very durable in water and was used for making water pipes, wheels, mallet heads, ships keels, etc.

The inner bark is astringent, demulcent and mildly diuretic. It was used both internally and externally in the treatment of diarrhoea, rheumatism, wounds, piles, etc and was also used as a mouthwash in the treatment of ulcers.

The leaves can be eaten raw and have an aromatic, unusual flavour, leaving the mouth feeling fresh and the breath smelling pleasant.


Any uses for trees or tree extracts, whether edible or medicinal, have not been tried or tested by EFORESTS.

Please take caution and seek proper advice before attempting any recipes or medicinal extracts from any of the trees listed on our site.

Culture and Symbolism

Wych Elm trees are believed to represent both creation and death, as well as the underworld.

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