The Sambucus Nigra plant, more commonly known as the Elder Plant, Elder Tree, Elderberry, Black Elder, is a tree, native to Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia. It flowers around June / July with beautiful white flowers and by August / October it will have ripened black berries on it.
Not only does the Elder Tree have many uses from various parts of the plant, it also has an extremely fascinating history, dating back to the Anglo Saxons.
The elder is a very versatile tree, over the years it has had many uses and to this day it is still used for many of the reasons listed below. Although modern day medical advancements means that the elder is no longer relied upon, many do still take advantage of the health benefits of the elder alongside modern day medicines;
Both the flowers and berries are used to create wine and liquor; the berries are typically used in liquor for the purpose of colouring. They’re also used to create teas traditionally for the health benefits created.
The flowers have been used to create face creams and toners whilst the leaves have been used to create ointments used as backrubs during illness or difficulty of breathing.
The berries are used to create syrups, jellies and jams. The flowers are used to create flavoured water and can be fried in batter to create a vegetable to go with your dish. Additionally, they can both be used as ingredients in teas.
Traditionally the timber has been used to create instruments such as penny whistles, and blow pipes.
The timber has been used to create babies’ cots.
The leaves can be boiled in water to create a spray for your garden flowers to rid your plants of pests.
Known to encourage perspiration and for its anti-inflammatory properties. The elder tree is used to treat illnesses such as colds, sore throats, sinusitis, influenza, feverish illnesses and heyfever. The flowers are typically infused into teas, the syrup created from the berries are used and ointments created from the leaves are used, usually a backrub.
We have added elderberries to our Berry Peppermint tea. Created primarily for its health benefits gained from the combined ingredients but also for the delicious flavour.
It has long been believed that the Elder Mother resides inside the elder tree to protect it. The superstition around the Elder Mother have played a vital part in the history of the elder tree and of those that have lived in belief of them.
Before the rise of Christianity, much of Europe believed that the Elder Mother was a protector. Her flowers and berries were used for their healing abilities and her branches were hung in doorways to protect its residents.
Post Christianity, some beliefs shifted to a darker nature. It is said that this came about because the crucifixion cross was made from elder wood and because Judas was said to have hung himself from an elder tree. Whatever the reason, it was thought that if one sought to cut down the elder tree they must first seek the approval of the elder mother – How they know if the elder mother gave her approval I do not know.
In the Netherlands it was believed that if this approval was not sought then the Elder Mother would seek her revenge and in the United Kingdom it was believed that the Elder Mother would place a curse on the cutter.