Elm - Botanicals

The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World - Judika Illes 2005


(Ulmus campestris)

Elm trees are widely distributed, from as far south as Mexico, to as far north as the Himalayas. One species, the Scotch Elm (Ulmus montana) is also known as the Wych Elm. In German, however, the entire species of elms may be classed as “Hexenulme” or Witch’s Elm.

The elm has a reputation as a cranky tree, allegedly dropping branches onto people’s heads deliberately. Elms can be very tall and as such served as local landmarks. Meeting under an elm was an easy direction to follow because elms were frequently the tallest, most imposing trees around. Witches allegedly danced around elms, particularly on May Eve.

Romany magical tradition prizes the elm as a tree of particularly powerful enchantment. Romany magic wands are traditionally crafted from elm although the wood can never be cut but only received as a gift from the tree in the form of naturally fallen branches. (Frustrated because there is no fallen branch? If the tree wants to work with you, a branch will be available, perhaps falling directly onto your head. If not, that’s your signal to look elsewhere or to be patient.)

Elms were associated with death and passage into the realms of the Dead. Spirit guardians of burial mounds were believed to make their homes in elms. The wood was once used to craft coffins.