Family: Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle Family)
Parts Used: Flowers
Appearance: Elder is a deciduous large shrub which grows to 3 meters or more in height. The long green leaves are arranged in opposite pairs making up groups of 5 to 9 leaflets per stem. The long leaflets are about 10cm long and 5 cm wide with bundles of little white 5-petal flowers above the foliage in April-May. The fruits are drooping clusters of red berries that ripen in the early-fall. The flowers are the only edible parts of the plant, the berries are toxic when ingested raw.
Harvesting Methods: The best time to harvest the white flowers is in the early Spring when they blossom.
Medicinal Uses: Elder is a simple alterative diaphoretic, making it a useful remedy for acute fevers. It is also considered a diuretic for water retention and to dilute the urine in cystitis. Elder also has anti-microbial actions, although not as strong as its relative, Sambucus nigra, which is an excellent remedy for any upper respiratory tract infection, especially in children.
Preparation: Visit the ‘Medicine Making‘ page for more details
The dried or fresh flowers can be made into a tea, taking 4-6 ounces up to 4x/day.
Caution: The fresh stems, bark, root and leaves are poisonous and the berries can cause nausea when eaten raw. Speak with your healthcare provider to ensure that Elder is safe for you.