Free Shipping on orders over $75

Elderberry

November 14, 2019

Elderberry

Elder Sambucus nigra

Elderberry

 

Parts used: Flower and Berry

Key Constituents: Vitamin C, Vitamin A, beta-carotene, bioflavonoids, flavonoids, iron, potassium

Actions: Bitter, Cooling, and drying

     Flowers: Anti-viral, expectorant, circulatory stimulant, diuretic

     Berries: Anti-viral, diaphoretic, diuretic, laxative

Safety: 

The berries and flowers are considered generally safe for adults and children. Do not eat raw or uncooked berries in great quantity, as they can cause diarrhea and digestive issues in many people. Do not use any other parts of the tree internally as they can be toxic and cause someone to become extremely nauseous. 

  

Growing and Identification

Elder is a large, hardy perennial shrub that grows well in Maine. Reaching upwards of 30 ft high, it generally prefers to grow in moist soils and can be found along roadsides and meandering streams.

In the late spring and early summer, the Elder produces its creamy-white colored flowers, sometimes known as elderblow that usually grow to six inches in diameter. As the flowers pass, they give way to small clusters of deep purple berries in late summer and early fall. The leaves of the Elder are elongated, toothed leaflets that are around 3 inches long and shoot from opposite sides of the stem.

Harvesting Elder


Basket of Elderflowers

Elderflower

In the spring, when the umbels of the elderflower have burst open is the perfect time to harvest these pillowy-white clusters.

 

With a pair of clean scissors, cut just below the flowers, where the stalk reaches the branch. Keep in mind that any flowers you harvest will yield fewer berries come fall.

 

 

 

 

 

Elderberry                                                                                                                        Harvesting the berries of the elder tree is a delicate balance-they're ripe, soft and can be bruised easily.  With a pair of clean scissors, cut just below the cluster of berries and gently place into a cloth-lined basket or paper bag. To remove the berries easily from the stems, place the berries in a paper bag and stick it into the freezer. When the berries have frozen, generally an hour or two, remove the bag from the freezer and shake gently. The berries will effortlessly fall from the stems. 

 

Traditional Uses

One of the most highly regarded medicinal plants in Europe and by traditional herbalists, Elder is prized for it’s immune supporting benefits and folkloric magic.

When taken internally, the flowers are diaphoretic and may encourage sweating. If taken during pollen season, the flowers of the elder tree can support a healthy upper-respiratory system. Topical creams and ointments that include elderflower are wonderful for their the cooling properties and are delightful for warm and irritated skin. 

For centuries, the berries of the elder tree have been used as a healthy elixir to take during the cold winter months. Packed with vitamin C, Vitamin A and other minerals, elderberries help keep the immune system in tip-top shape throughout the season. 

 

Folklore

Anglo-Saxons, the Danish, and other old European societies believed the elder tree was sacred. According to Elder Tree Folklore, this sacredness came from the spirit or goddess believed to reside in the plant. The Elder Mother, had the power to protect and to harm. The power of the Elder Mother turned the plant’s natural gifts (flowers, berries and wood) into blessings. From the Elder Mother, the various parts of the tree were imbued with power. For example, the leaves could protect a home or a person from evil spirits when dried and hung in a doorway or around the neck. It was a particularly good omen if an elder grew near a dwelling, as the tree’s proximity to the home would protect the household.

 

 

There are so many ways to enjoy the magic of the Elder. In the spring, harvesting the flowers and creating a tincture or trying your hand at making Elderflower fritters is a welcome way to usher in the season. As the berries become ripe later in the summer, either dry or process the fresh berries to use in teas, elixirs, jams and syrups, or combine with beneficial mushrooms to create a nourishing elixir for the cold winter months ahead. 





Also in Herb Profiles

Rosemary
Rosemary

January 06, 2021

Rosemary is an incredible herb that most everyone has in their  kitchen.  We grow  rosemary in the hot and well-drained areas on  the farm.  We harvest it in the  fall and  dry it for  tea, soup stocks,  oils and honey.  Rosemary is  a  fabulous  herb to use regularly in your meals, especially in the colder months. It’s warming and stimulating and has antiviral and antibacterial properties. It’s also a wonderful plant for uplifting the spirit and  mood. I like to use rosemary as a brain tonic and for helping with focus and mental clarity. It can be supportive in anxiety formulas and to help alleviate stagnant depression.

Continue Reading

Licorice

January 06, 2021

Licorice  is  an  herb  I’m  trying  to  grow  more  of  on  the  farm. We  use  the  roots  in  our  tea  and  tincture  blends.  Licorice  is a  sweet  herb,  almost  too  sweet  for  my  taste,  but  I’ve  yet  to find  another  person  who  feels  that  way.  So  it’s  a  great  herb  to add  to  formulas  that  you  want  to  bring  a  little  sweetness  to. Licorice  is  a  wonderful  herb  that  is  great  for  adrenal  support and  to  soothe  irritated  tissue  in  the  upper  respiratory  and digestive  tracts.

Continue Reading

Lavender
Lavender

January 06, 2021

Lavender is an aromatic perennial that makes a gorgeous border  that  is  well  loved  by  the  bees  and  other  local  pollinators. I  harvest the  flowering spikes during the summer to dry for tea, baking, elixirs, syrups, oils and herb bundles. There are so many  lovely  ways  to  work  with  lavender.  It’s  a  wonderful herb  to  use  on  its  own  or  in  formulas  for  stress  induced depression,  anxiety,  nervous  exhaustion,  and  headaches.  I also  like  adding  it  to  blends  for  sleep  and  digestive  issues  like gas, bloating and nervous stomach issues like IBS.

Continue Reading