The Elder bush is a deciduous multi-stemmed shrub that grows to between 5 and 12 feet high. Elder grows in low moist grounds, meadows, stream-banks, disturbed places and forest edges. Cold Elder Flower infusion were used topically by Old Northern European Herbalists as an eye wash to relieve inflammation or soreness. Externally, they used poultices of fresh leaves to speed the healing of wounds and abrasions. Taken internally in teas or tinctures, Elder leaf was used to help break fevers and to break up chest congestion from common colds.
History and Folklore:
The Danish and other old European societies believed the elder tree was sacred. According to Folklore, this came from the spirit of the Elder Mother who was believed to live in the plant. The Elder Mother has the power to protect and to harm. The power of the Elder Mother turned the plant’s flowers, berries, and wood into blessings. For example, the leaves could protect a home or a person from evil spirits when in a doorway or around the neck. It was thought to be a particularly good omen if an elder grew near a dwelling, since the growing tree would protect the household.
Cultivation and Harvest:
Harvest the leaves in the late spring or early summer when they are vibrant green. Dry the leaves while still on the branch so that they don’t mildew.
Do not take if pregnant. Do not use with Children
Traditional Herbal Actions:
diaphoretic, diuretic, emmolient, vulnerary, expectorant.
Black Elder, European Elder
Sambucus cerulea, S. mexicana, S. nigra, S. racemosa
Ingredients: Elder Leaf (Sambucus spp.)
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*This statement has not been verified by the FDA and is only referenced here as a fun fact and/or for historical commentary, is not to be used as medical advice in any way. Consult your doctor before ingesting any herbal product.