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Heirloom Herb and Source of Elderberries Empty Heirloom Herb and Source of Elderberries

Post by Sonshine on Mon Jul 27, 2009 6:59 am

The elder is a deciduous shrub of myth, legend, beauty and usefulness. In June through early July the whole bush is adorned with lacy, cream colored clusters of terminal flowers that exude a light, musky, honey-like scent that I, and many others, find intoxicating. In the old days these flowering shrubs graced country hillsides and valleys with their elegance.

In those times it was considered very bad luck to slash down an elder. Everyone knew that the elder mother, a spirit, occupied the shrub and unmercifully hunted down and haunted anyone who dared perform any type of damage to her home. An ancient poem read, “Elder be the Lady’s tree, burn it not or cursed you’ll be.”

Elder’s were attributed with such powers as protecting a dwelling from lightning, calming babies, bestowing the power of seeing the future and allowing one to glimpse fairies.

An old fashioned fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson, “The Elder-Tree Mother,” is a story about a little boy who has caught cold and is healed by the elder mother who comes out of the pot of elder tea. It is a wonderful example of the high esteem that used to be bestowed upon the elder and can be read online at, The Tales of Hans Christian Andersen, Mother Elderberry, 1850

Now, much to our misfortune, we have no such notions or superstitions and the elder is no longer appreciated and in fact seems to be disappearing from our rural landscapes.

Still, elder can be sighted in forgotten corners of the countryside, often alongside streams and waterways as the shrub is fond of moisture. My farmer neighbor once commented to me that I was the only person that he knew that had elder growing in my front yard. Too bad he doesn’t know more cool people! Lucky for the elder it is very ornamental and is catching on in popularity for plantings in yards.

Even if none of the folklore is true it is still beneficial to have elders around. A shrub with such an interesting history and so many uses definitely deserves a place in our gardens. I have many of them beautifying our homestead yard. They make wonderful screens and backdrops and have a graceful, casual air about them.

The elder is a plant of many talents. Its shoots and buds can be pickled and its flowers are not only beautiful but also prove to be very functional. They can be frittered, made into syrup for ice-cream, jellied, made into a hand, face or body lotion or there is the Scandinavian tradition of drinking Elder Blossom Nectar, with or without white wine or vodka, on Midsummer's Eve. There’s a recipe at

Please click on link for the rest of the article.

He who cultivates his land will have plenty of food,
but from idle pursuits a man has his fill of poverty
Proverbs 28:19[b]

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