The elder tree
This tree is more of a shrub. It can grow to an average height of 10m and is often seen in hedgerows, squidged between other trees such as hawthorn, holly and ash.
In Scotland it’s known as the bourtree and has long been associated with the mystic. If elder trees grew on farmland, it was considered a blessing and it is said that as it can never be struck by lightning, it is good to have one near your home.
In times past every part of the elder would be used for medicinal purposes, including the bark and leaves. More info here: https://sacredearth.com/2020/05/24/all-about-the-elder-tree-its-myths-magic-and-medicine/
The wood is strong and was used to make fence posts and tool handles. It is not suitable for burning as it tends to spark.
Elder twigs and branches are easily hollowed out and can be used to make whistles and beads.
Elder – the giving tree
Older and wiser, yet young I may be, drink twice of the riches that come from me – Grace Banks
What drinks can we enjoy from the elder tree?
The light almost lemony fragrance of elderflowers is captivating and the insects love them!
Click here for a recipe for Elderflower cordial
The berries are loved by birds and very good for us – BUT COOK FIRST – otherwise a sore belly.
Click here for a recipe for elderberry juice.
The elder tree
The tree, bark, branches, buds and leaves
An elder tree does not often stand out as it’s usually part of a hedgerow.
The green stems of the elder rapidly turn woody:
As an elder tree ages, it has lightish coloured bark that’s deeply fissured. The trunk often twists and bends as it grows to capture the most light. This means the tree is either squat in appearance or thin and rangy, depending on how much light it has:
The branches are covered in little holes called ventricles, these are air holes:
The buds on its woody brown stem are purple and scaly:
This tree has leaves with 5-7 leaflets, one of which is on the end of the twig:
Flowers and fruit
The elder tree appears to be almost invisible to us until early summer when it’s covered in flowers:
or in early autumn when its covered in fruit:
Good to have you, come back again 🙂