American Elm (Ulmus americana)

U. floridana.
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
American Elm
Ulmus americana

A fibre obtained from the stems is used in making paper[189]. The stems are harvested in spring, the leaves are removed and the stems steamed until the fibres can be stripped. The outer bark is removed from the inner bark by scraping or peeling. The fibres are cooked for 2 hours with lye and then beaten with mallets. The paper is beige in colour[189].

The inner bark is very fibrous and is used in making string and strong ropes[149, 226].

The bark has been used to make various containers, including those used for gathering maple syrup[226].

Wood – hard, strong, heavy, durable, coarse grained, shrinks moderately though it tends to warp and twist, it bends well and is difficult to split. The wood is very durable in water. It weighs 40lb per cubic foot and is harvested commercially for flooring, wheel hubs, cooperage, agricultural implements and many other uses[46, 61, 82, 149, 171, 226, 227].

  • Medicinal Use

    An infusion made from the bark has been used in the treatment of bleeding from the lungs, ruptures, coughs, colds, influenza, dysentery, eye infections, cramps and diarrhoea[226, 257]. An infusion of the bark has been taken by pregnant women to secure stability of children[257]. A decoction of the bark has been used as a wash on wounds[257].

    A decoction of the inner bark has been taken in the treatment of severe coughs, colds, menstrual cramps[257]. An infusion of the inner bark has been drunk, and used as a bath, in the treatment of appendicitis[257].

    An infusion of the root bark has been used in the treatment of coughs, colds and excessive menstruation[257]. A decoction has been used as an eye wash in the treatment of sore eyes[257]. The inner bark has been used as an emollient on tumours[257].

  • Edible Use

    Leaves – raw or cooked.

    The red inner bark has been used to make a coffee-like drink[257].

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – if sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe, it usually germinates within a few days[200]. Stored seed does not germinate so well and should be sown in early spring[200]. 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[80]. 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[200].
Prefers a fertile soil in full sun[188], but it can be grown in any soil of at least moderate quality so long as it is well drained[1]. Trees are moderately fast-growing and live for at least 300 years in the wild[227, 229], but they do not thrive in Britain[1]. This species is particularly susceptible to ‘Dutch elm disease'[274], a disease that has destroyed the greater part of all the elm trees growing in Britain. The disease is spread by means of beetles. Mature trees killed back by the disease will often regrow from suckers, but these too will succumb when they get larger. There is no effective cure (1992) for the problem, but most E. Asian, though not Himalayan, species are resistant (though not immune) to the disease so the potential exists to use these resistant species to develop new resistant hybrids with the native species[200]. The various species of this genus hybridize freely with each other and pollen is easily saved, so even those species with different flowering times can be hybridized[200].
Eastern N. America – Newfoundland to Manitoba, Florida and Texas.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.