Elderberry

Sambucus nigra

Elder Flower, European Elder, Europese Vlier (Afr.)

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'Elder' is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word 'Aeld', meaning fire, probably developed because the center of elder stems was used as tinder to start fires. It's easy propagation and resistance to pests explains the popularity of Elders with gardeners. Interesting for a shrub, valued highly by carpenters for making skewers, mathematical instruments and toys. It is also highly valued in the medicinal world.
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Planning

Difficulty

Moderate

Flowering time

Summer

Fruiting time

Autumn

Harvesting

Flowers - early summer. Berries - late summer, early autumn.The first two years after planting elderberry bushes, do not bother picking the berries.

Propagation

Seed

Birds are the main dispersal agent of seeds by both regurgitation or defecation after eating the berries. Cross pollination is necessary. Sow seeds in the Spring. Plant seedlings one meter apart in rows that are about 4 meters apart.

Cuttings

Hard or softwood cuttings are used

Special features

Hedge plant

A good choice for a hedge as the flexible branches can easily be trimmed and set. Offering protection against wind and ideal habitat for birds.

Repels harmful insects

The leaves are used as an insect repellent.

Special features

Origin

Most of Europe, Northwest Africa and Southwest Asia.

Natural climate

They grow in most climates

Environment

Light

Full Sun

Soil moisture

Moist

Soil type

Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand

Soil PH preference

Alkaline

Frost hardiness

Hardy

Uses

Medicinal

The leaves, flowers, fruits and root extracts are used to treat bronchitis, coughs, upper respiratory infections and fever. Infusions of the flower are used for colds, sinusitis, fevers and hay fever.

Edible

The dark purple berries can be eaten when fully ripe and are used to make jam, jelly and chutney. Elderberry cordial is made from Elderberry flowers.

Notes

Elderberry has medicinal and culinary uses. An ointment can be made to use on chilblains, sprains and bruises.

Personality

Family

Adoxaceae

Flower colour

Cream, White

Scent

Mild

Problems

Elder white wash fungus : use Fungicides or sprays containing copper; Glasshouse red spider mite - identify early on as it can be difficult to control as it breeds rapidly in warm conditions, use pesticides containing acetamiprid; verticillium wilt -sanitize all equipment on a regular basis, rotate with non-susceptible crops.

Related Problems

Companion plants

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Knowledge and advice

Search our ever-growing knowledge base to find plants and information. Find out about pests and diseases you should be keeping an eye out for. Watch How to videos or follow step by step guides for tasks in the garden. Free download for your phone or tablet.
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