Note: most parts of most elder plants are at least mildly toxic, as is the case with most medicinal herbs (and indeed, most conventional medication as well). Use with caution, and inform yourself beyond this site.


An elder bush with clusters of flowers|400

I was honestly pretty worried about correctly identifying this plant when I first spotted it, so I didn't end up making anything from the flowers, but I love elderflower liqueur and making some of my own, or an elderflower syrup I can mix in with some carbonated water sounds heavenly.

Unfortunately, I'll be waiting until summer 2024 for that. In my part of the world, Sambucus flowers in late June, around the time of Litha.


First elderberry harvest! Not bad for foraging.

I have some elder at home but it’s pretty young and hasn’t flowered so far. It's an ornamental and is supposed to be beautiful if it ever actually flowers for me...

My baby elder bush with dark green lace leaves|400

No flowers, no berries. In the new house I intend to plant plenty of it.

Be careful with identifying Elder, as there are different varieties and only some are safe to consume. In general, elderberries should be cooked before consuming and the seeds strained out. Sambucus nigra or European elderberry is the best known species, though the subspecies S nigra canadensis and S nigra caerulea aka S mexicana are native to North America. Sidenote that the blue berries on the latter are stunning.

Picture of an Elder bush with a mostly empty cluster of berries in the foreground|400

Elderberry is taken for its antiviral properties, and is often made into a medicinal syrup combined with honey, ginger, and/or lemon. Pretty classic herbal remedy stuff for making into a tea for cold and flu season. As with lemon and honey, it should not be used as an alternative to a flu vaccine, but may shorten the duration of a cold, or ease symptoms.

Elderberry syrup recipe: https://www.growforagecookferment.com/elderberry-syrup/

I never purport to offer any kind of medical advice, but when it comes to herbal remedies always educate yourself beyond the information on this site. I’m learning as I go and nothing on this page should be taken as expertise. Especially when it comes to foraging, be careful when identifying unfamiliar plants.

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