Herbs & Plants

Ulmus campestris

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Botanical Name: Ulmus campestris
Family: Ulmaceae
Genus: Ulmus
Species: U. minor
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Rosales

Synonyms: Ulmi cortex. Broad-leaved Elm. Ulmus suberosa (var. Orme).
Habitat: Ulmus campestris grows in Europe, Asia, North Africa. The tree’s typical habitat is low-lying forest along the main rivers, growing in association with oak and ash, where it tolerates summer floods as well as droughts.

Ulmus campestris typically grows to < 30 m and bears a rounded crown. The bark of the trunk is rough, furrowed lightly in older trees to form a block pattern. Young branchlets occasionally have corky wings. The shoots are slender compared with those of wych elm. The leaves are smaller than those of the other European species, hence the specific epithet minor, however they can vary greatly according to the maturity of the tree. Leaves on juvenile growth (suckers, seedlings etc.) are coarse and pubescent, whereas those on mature growth are generally smooth, though remaining highly variable in form; there are generally fewer than 12 pairs of side veins. A common characteristic is the presence of minute black glands along the leaf veins, detectable with the aid of a magnifying glass. The samarae are typically ovate and notched, the notch extending to the central seed…..CLICK & SEE THE ¬†PICTURES

The species readily produces suckers from roots and stumps, even after devastation by Dutch elm disease; consequently genetic resources are not considered endangered.

Owing to its susceptibility to Dutch elm disease, U. minor is now uncommon in cultivation. However, in an ongoing project that began in the 1990s, several thousand surviving Field Elms have been tested for innate resistance by national research institutes in the EU, with a view to returning Field Elm to cultivation. Results from Spain (2013), for example, confirm that a very small number of surviving Field Elms (about 0.5% of those tested) appear to have comparatively high levels of tolerance of the disease, and it is hoped that a controlled crossing of the best of these will produce resistant Ulmus minor hybrids for cultivation.

In the UK, despite its late leaf-flush in the north and its suckering habits, continental Ulmus minor was occasionally planted as an ornamental urban tree. Augustine Henry wrote in 1913 that the U. minor planted in parks in Scotland were of French origin. Among mature survivors in Edinburgh (2013), the specimen in the grounds of Holyrood Palace, opposite Abbeyhill Crescent, the elm at the corner of Granton Road and Boswall Road in the forecourt of the former Royal Forth Yacht Club, and the elm on the corner of Abbey Mount and Regent Road, appear old enough to fall into this category.

Ulmus campestris has been introduced to the southern hemisphere, notably Australasia and Argentina.

Part Used in medicines: The dried inner bark.

Constituents: Analyses of Elm wood show 47.8 per cent of lime, 21.9 of potash and 13.7 of soda.

A peculiar vegetable principle, called Ulmin or Ulmic Acid, was first discovered in the gummy substance which spontaneously exudes in summer from the bark of the Common Elm, becoming by the action of the air a dark-brown, almost black substance, without smell or taste, insoluble in cold sparingly soluble in boiling water, which it colours yellowish-brown, soluble in alcohol and readily dissolved by alkaline solutions.

The inner bark is very mucilaginous, and contains a little tannic acid which gives it a somewhat bitter and slightly astringent taste, it also contains a great deal of starch.

Medicinal Uses:
Tonic, demulcent, astringent and diuretic. Wasformerly employed for the preparation of an antiscorbutic decoction recommended in cutaneous diseases of a leprous character, such as ringworm. It was applied both externally and internally. Under the title of Ulmus the dried inner bark was official in the British Pharmacopoeia of 1864 and 1867 directions for the preparation of Decoc. Ulmi being as follows: Elm Bark 1 part, water 8 parts; boil for 10 minutes, strain, make up to 8 parts.

A homoeopathic tincture is made of the inner bark, and used as an astringent.

Fluid extract, dose 2 to 4 oz. three or four times daily.

A medicinal tea was also formerly made from the flowers.

In Persia, Italy and the south of France, galls, sometimes the size of a fist, are frequently produced on the leaves. They contain a clear water called eau d’orme, which is sweet and viscid, and has been recommended to wash wounds, contusions and sore eyes. Culpepper tells us:
‘the water that is found in the bladders on the leaves of the elm-tree is very effectual to cleanse the skin and make it fair.’

Towards autumn, these galls dry, the insects in them die and there is found a residue in the form of a yellow or blackish balsam, called beaume d’ormeau, which has been recommended for diseases of the chest.
Other Uses:
All parts of the tree, including sapwood, are used in carpentry. The wood is close-grained, free from knots, hard and tough, and not subject to splitting, but it does not take a high polish. It does not crack when once seasoned and is remarkably durable under water, being specially adapted for any purpose which requires exposure to wet. To prevent shrinking and warping in drying, it may be preserved in water or mud, but is best worked up soon after felling. In drying, the wood loses over 60 per cent of its weight.

Elm wood is used for keels and bilge planks, the blocks and dead eyes of rigging and ship’s pumps, for coffins, wheels, furniture, turned articles and general carpenter’s work. Elm boards are largely used for lining the interior of carts, wagons and wheelbarrows on account of the extreme toughness of the wood, and it has been much employed in the past for making sheds, most of the existing farm buildings being covered with elm. Previous to the common employment of cast-iron, Elm was very much in use for waterpipes.

The inner bark is very tough and is made into mats and ropes. The leaves and young shoots have been found a suitable food for live stock.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

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