Wych Elm
(Ulmus glabra)
Uneven sided


uneven leaf base
(note uneven base)

Winter twig
Winter twig



distrbution map

The leaves are alternate, 7-16 cm long, with a strongly toothed margin, with one side longer than the other and overlapping. The short leaf-stalk is less than 10 mm long. The upper surface is rough to the touch, the lower more softly hairy. They are often 3-pointed at the tip.

ID check

Wych elm is a deciduous tree up to 40 m in height. It often branches near the base forming a dome-shaped crown. The bark is grey with many long fissures. It is native in damp woods, hedges and along streams.

The clusters of tiny, bell-shaped, green flowers open in late February and March, well before the leaves.

The fruit is flattened, broadly winged, penny-sized and light green, with a single seed in the centre.

The young twigs are covered in coarse, rusty coloured hairs.


  • It is less prone to attack by Dutch elm disease than other elms, so that large trees may still be seen, particularly in Northern Britain.

  • The wood is very durable in wet conditions. It was once used to make underground water pipes and is still used for groynes and harbour works.

  • It was formerly a favourite timber of coffin-makers.

Return to Index Page