Collecting the folklore and uses of plants


2014-05-22 13.15.121.  A Herefordshire man told me today that smallholders in the Golden Valley used to use wych elm [Ulmus glabra] to make a ‘jelly’ that was fed to pigs.  This seems incredible! [Stocksfield, Northumberland, March 2015].                                   Additional information received 23 March 2015:  I remember my gran feeding the pig; she used to get witch [sic.] elm leaves and also hazel leaves and she would soak them in water for sometime, then she put some meal with it, and small potatoes.  This would have been in the 1930s.

Further records of, or comments on, this practice would be much appreciated.

2.  Elm bark, which can be cut in long, thin strips from a branch or trunk (preferably already cut from the tree) can be used as twine-like string [Ludlow, Shropshire, March 2012].

Images: main, English elm, Ulmus procera, one of the ‘Preston Twins’, Preston Park, Brighton, East Sussex, May 2016;*  inset, Oxenholme, Cumbria, May 2014.

*According to The Times, 22 August 2017, ‘half of the largest elm tree in Europe was brought down by high winds on Saturday’.  The tree, one of the ‘Preston Twins’ was said to be 400 years old, measuring 110 ft tall and ‘almost 23 ft round’.  The Twins are reputedly the oldest pair of elms in Britain.

In July 2022 it was reported on Britain’s Ancient & Sacred Trees Facebook that one of the twins had succumbed to Dutch elm disease, but its ‘trunk is being preserved’.