The average English speaker would understand it. It is a little formal and academic. It is often used in abstract discussions of things like traditions, idea, customs, laws, and history.
"The US concept of property stems from British common law."
"Growing anger over VAR stems from FIFA putting fans last."--"Forbes" magazine
"Since bigotry stems from ignorance, education is key."
It needs to be followed by something that functions grammatically as a noun. That could be an noun, but it could be a phrase, or a verb form that functions as a noun. In the second example above, "FIFA putting things last" works like a noun.
You would probably not say "the car crash stemmed from brake failure" or "your itches stem from mosquito bites." Those make sense, but they sound strange and unnatural.