”’Scientific Name”’: ”Ulmus glabra”
”’Also known as”’: Scot’s Elm
”’Habitat”’: Despite the English elm’s name, wych elm is the only elm that is regarded as being truly native to Britain. As a results of Dutch elm disease, wych elm is now found very infrequently.
has the widest range of the European elm species, from Ireland eastwards to the Urals, and from the Arctic Circle south to the mountains of the Peloponnese in Greece; it is also found in Iran.
It usually grows in hilly or rocky woodlands, or beside streams and ditches. It is hardier than the English elm, ”Ulmus minor var. vulgaris”, so is found much further north and west, and in parts of Scotland.
”’Description”’: The wych elm sometimes reaches heights of 40 m, typically with a broad crown where open-grown, supported by a short bole < 2 m. d.b.h. There are not normally root suckers; natural reproduction is by seed alone. The tree is notable for its very tough, supple young shoots, which are always without the corky ridges or 'wings' characteristic of many elms. Mature trees can grow to a height of 30m
* '''Bark''' – The bark is smooth and grey when young, becoming grey-brown and fissured after 20 years.
* '''Twigs''' – Twigs are dark grey and covered in coarse hairs.
* '''Buds''' – Leaf buds are hairy, purple-black and squat in shape.
* '''Leaves''' – The alternate leaves are deciduous, toothed, and at 7-16cm long, they are larger than those of other elms. They are obovate and have a characteristic asymmetrical base and taper to a sudden point at the top. the lobe often completely covering the short (<5 mm) petiole; the upper surface is rough. Leaves on juvenile or shade-grown shoots sometimes have three or more lobes near the apex.
* '''Flowers''' – Flowers appear before the leaves in early spring. They are red-purple in colour, and appear in clusters of 10 to 20, spaced out along the twigs and small branches. Elms have perfect hermaphrodite flowers, meaning that both male and female reproductive parts are contained within each flower.
* '''Fruits''' – Once pollinated by wind, flowers develop into small, winged fruits known as samaras (20mm long). The seed is characteristically located at the centre of the wing, whilst in field elms the seed is displaced toward the apex (tip) of the wing. These are dispersed by wind.
==Pictures throughout the year==
File:20180405_103650C.jpg|Wych Elm in spring
File:20170404194939C.JPG|Wych Elm flowers
File:20170404194943C.JPG|Wych Elm flowers close-up
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.
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.
Many birds eat elm seeds and the leaves provide food for the caterpillars of many moths, including the peppered, light emerald and white spotted pinion moths. Caterpillars of the white letter hairstreak butterfly feed on elms and the species has declined dramatically since Dutch elm disease arrived in the UK.
”’Mythology and symbolism”’
Elms used to be associated with melancholy and death, perhaps because the trees can drop dead branches without warning. Elm wood was also the preferred choice for coffins. In Lichfield it was the custom to carry elm twigs in a procession around the Cathedral Close on Ascension Day, then to throw them in the font.
”’How we use wych elm”’
Elm wood is strong and durable with a tight-twisted grain, and is resistant to water. It has been used in decorative turning, and to make boats and boat parts, furniture, wheel hubs, wooden water pipes, floorboards and coffins.
The word wych (also spelled witch) comes from the Old English wice, meaning pliant or supple, which also gives us wicker and weak. An older name for the tree was “wych hazel”, perhaps based on the similar appearance of hazel and wych elm shoots.
Before metal was widely available, many English towns had elm water mains, including Bristol, Reading, Exeter, Southampton, Hull and Liverpool.
*Tree & Plant ID Course from Foundation Bushcraft – http://identificationmasterclass.com/
*Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulmus_glabra
*Woodland Trust – https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/visiting-woods/trees-woods-and-wildlife/british-trees/native-trees/wych-elm/