Elder

Light flowers and dark berries

‘Sambucus’ is the Latin name for Elder. The species name ‘nigra’ means ‘black’ and refers to the berries ripening in the shade. The honeysuckle family (Capriofoliaceae) is commonly found in lowland forests, along riverbanks, hedgerows, woodland glades and margins.

Interesting for storytellers

Among the many attempts to discover the origins of the name, Elder is traced back to the Goddess Holla, and in German folklore, is known after Mother Hulda (or as Frau Holle). Candlemass Festival on 2 February is also a festival in celebration of Frau Holle, who is said to have lived in ‘Holler’. She brings light and shade to the ceremony and shows the ‘golden path’. From June to July, light-colored Elder blossoms gleam in the sunshine, while dark berries ripen in the shade from August to September.
According to folklore the hollow branches of the Elder bush can help absorb distress and a bad atmosphere. What’s more, they reportedly help us make contact with our ancestors. Elder is also associated with plants, animals and ethereal creatures, hence evoking the patron Goddess Holle.

Practical for woodcrafts

Some say that the Latin species name is derived from ‘sambuka’, an antique flute, which was made from branches. Naturally, you can still make a musical flute by scratching out the soft center from the hollow insides of Elder branches.

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Prized by healers

Elder really does do the trick. For instance, it contains the flavonoids rutin, isoquercitrin, quercitrin and hyperoside. It also contains essential oil, mucilage and caffeic acid derivatives.
The fruits are antioxidizing and anti-viral. The fruit acids contain Vitamin C and folic acids. Elder is, for example, also used to treat common colds and feverish catarrh invading the respiratory tracts. It promotes perspiration, helping counteract fever, stimulating bronchial secretion and is an immunotherapeutic agent.

A fine gourmet ingredient

Elder blossom in pastries or Elder soup, Elderflower champagne, Elderflower juice or syrup ... there are numerous recipes to prepare something simple but special, using the fragrant Elder blossoms or healthy berries.

 

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