Wych elm

Wych Elm

©Philip Precey

Wych elm

Scientific name: Ulmus glabra
Due to the devastating effects of Dutch elm disease in the 20th century, Wych elm is rarely found as large tree, but is more common as a shrub along hedgerows and streams, and in upland areas.

Species information


Height: up to 30m

Conservation status


When to see

January to December


Wych elm is rarely found as a tree, but is more common as a hedgerow shrub. This is a likely result of the ravaging effects of a recent wave of Dutch elm disease which has affected all of the UK's elms, killing many mature trees and preventing new trees from growing. Mature wych elms can be found in woods, often alongside streams and in upland areas. It is one of the few elms to spread mainly by seed, instead of propagating clones from root suckers.

How to identify

Elms can be recognised by their asymmetrical, oval leaves that are toothed around the edges and have very short stalks; they also produce winged fruit. Wych Elm has longer leaves than other elms, with a narrow tip.


Widespread but scattered distribution, most common in the north and west.

Did you know?

The name 'Wych' does not refer to a link to witches or magic, but actually means 'pliant' or 'supple' in old English, relating to the Wych elm's properties as a wood for making Welsh bows.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts record and monitor our local wildlife to understand the effects of various factors on their populations, such as disease. You can help with this vital monitoring work by becoming a volunteer - you'll not only help local wildlife but learn new skills and make new friends along the way.