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Physical Characteristics

“The ELDERBERRY is a deciduous shrub or small tree growing up to 6 metres tall and wide. Yet another very easily grown plant, it tolerates most soils and situations, growing well on chalk and in heavy clay soils. It tolerates some shade but fruits better in a sunny position. It also tolerates atmospheric pollution and coastal situations. The small white flowers are produced in large racemes in late spring and early summer. They make a delicious refreshing snack on a hot day, though you have to be a bit careful when eating them because they are very attractive to a wide range of insects and you could end up eating more than you had bargained for. The flowers can also be used to add a muscatel flavour to stewed fruits, jellies and jams, and are often used to make a sparkling wine.”

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Elderberry Crunch Bread -

Elder Flower Vinegar/ Elderberry Chutney/ Elderberry Ketchup/ Elderberry Jam without Apples


Medicinal Uses

Myths and Tales

“In Denmark we come across the old belief that he who stood under an Elder tree on Midsummer Eve would see the King of Fairyland ride by, attended by all his retinue. Folkard, in Plant-Lore, Legends and Lyrics, relates:'The pith of the branches when cut in round, flat shapes, is dipped in oil, lighted, and then put to float in a glass of water; its light on Christmas Eve is thought to reveal to the owner all the witches and sorcerers in the neighbourhood', and again: 'On Bertha Night (6th January), the devil goes about with special virulence. As a safeguard, persons are recommended to make a magic circle, in the centre of which they should stand, with Elderberries gathered on St. John's night. By doing this, the mystic Fern-seed may be obtained, which possesses the strength of thirty or forty men.

In some of the rural Midlands, it is believed that if a child is chastised with an Elder switch, it will cease to grow, owing, in this instance, to some supposed malign influence of the tree. On the other hand, Lord Bacon commended the rubbing of warts with a green Elder stick and then burying the stick to rot in the mud, and for erysipelas, it was recommended to wear about the neck an amulet made of Elder 'on which the sun had never shined.'

And Canon Ellacombe says that in the Tyrol: 'An Elder bush, trimmed into the form of a cross, is planted on a new-made grave, and if it blossoms, the soul of the person Iying beneath it is happy.'

Green Elder branches were also buried in a grave to protect the dead from witches and evil spirits, and in some parts it was a custom for the driver of the hearse to carry a whip made of Elder wood.”


see also: Brussels Plants

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