Common Names: Elder (Pipe Tree, Tree of Music, Hylde-Maer, and many more!)
Scientific Name: Sambucus Nigra (black elder), S. Canadensis (from Canada), S. Mexicana (from Mexico)
Parts Used: Primarily Flower and Berry, but Bark and Leaf can also be used
Harvesting: Found near low, damp ground. Gently cut flower stalks and dry them facing down on a fine net. Pick the fruit in the autumn as they ripen.
Constituents/Nutrition: Flower .?igh in flavonoids, mucilage, tannins, phenolic acids, triterpenes, rich in Potassium. Berry .?igh in flavonoids, organic acids, sugars, vitamins C and B-complex, and cyanogenic glycosides and lectins in the seeds.
Properties/Actions: Expectorant, blood purifier, laxative, diuretic, refrigerant, purgative (bark and leaves). Immunomodulant and antiviral properties in berries due to lectins and cyanogenic glycosides.
Uses/Indications: Colds, flus, and coughs. Bronchitis, to clear congestion of lungs and sinuses, sore throats, allergies, upper respiratory and gastrointestinal inflammation, minor constipation. Leaves are also good for the complexion, for bruises, sprains and wounds. Flowers are good for infant fevers, and as an eyewash for conjunctivitis.
Folk History/Magical Uses: This plant is steeped in history and magic! The tree was used in ancient times as a musical instrument. The pith of the branches was removed to make flutes, pipes, and kids .?a-shooters.. The spirit of the elder tree commands much respect. So much so that some refused to cut or burn the tree. Many also believe that you will never be struck by lightening if you stand under the tree, and that Christ was crucified on elder wood. The tree is believed to be a tree of protection in many cultures and is carried close to the body for good luck and health. The wood is carved into wands for magic uses.
Cautions/Side Effects: The raw berries contain a small amount of poisonous alkaloids. So, it is best to cook them before eating them. The Red Elder is the most toxic, but having said that the side effect is mainly nausea.
Preparation/Dosage: Can be prepared as a tea, syrup, oil, salve, food, tincture, gargle and more! For a flower tea, use 2 tsp. Fresh or dried flowers. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over them and let steep for ~15 minutes before drinking.
Recipe: my Winter Elderberry Syrup for immune support:
? 3 cups fresh elderberries, or 1 cup dried berries
? 3 cups filtered water
? 1 1/2 cups honey
? 1 ounce fresh ginger root, grated
? Juice of 1 lime
? 1 ounce echinacea tincture (95% alcohol) optional
1. Combine berries, ginger and water in stainless steel or glass pot. Heat on medium until simmering.
2. Continue to gently simmer uncovered for 45 minutes to an hour, or until reduced in volume by half.
3. Remove from heat. Strain well through cheesecloth, squeezing the juice from the berries. Allow
decoction to cool slightly.
4. Measure liquid and combine with equal parts honey.
5. Add all the lime juice .
6. When cooled completely, add echinacea tincture.
7. Pour into glass jar, label with date, and store in the refrigerator for up to a year.
Take between one teaspoon and one tablespoon twice daily during the cold and flu season. For children ages 2-5, use half the adult dose. Dose for ages 6-12 is one teaspoon twice daily. Nursing mothers can take one tablespoon 5 minutes before nursing to pass the benefits along to the baby.
My Thoughts: I love this herb! The tree is beautiful and delicate looking, but its medicine packs a punch. I use the berries a lot in the winter. I always make a couple of quarts of elderberry syrup to go into the cooler seasons with. K loves it. Now that she is in a play-school a couple of times a week, she takes some elderberry syrup with her oatmeal in the morning or in a little water. It.?a great way to help the immunity in more stressful times (like the beginning of the school season!) We also take a Tbsp. of the syrup at the first signs of a cold and whenever we have symptoms.
Cunningham, S. 2000. Magical Herbalism. Llewellyn Publications, Minnesota.
Hoffman, D. 1990. The New Holistic Herbal. Second Edition, Element, Shaftesbury. Magic and Medicine of Plants. 1990. Reader.?Digest Association, New York.
McVicar, J. 1994. The Complete Herb Book. Kyle Cathie Limited, London.
Onstad, D. 1996. Whole Foods Companion. Chelsea Green Publishing, Vermont.
Skenderi, G. 2003. Herbal Vade Mecum. Herbacy Press, New Jersey.
Tierra, L. 2000. A Kid.?Herb Book. Reed Publishers, California.
This site has a huge amount of info on Elder, along with more recipes.