There are over 30 different species of the most commonly used Sambucus nigra elder which is native to Europe, western Asia and northern Africa while Sambucus canadansis is native to North and Central America.
The elder mother, the spirit of this tree, is said to be the ruler of the faery kingdom and if she is disturbed, the little people will be dispatched to play havoc with our lives!
Parts used medicinally: Flowers or Berries
Flowers: Elderflower is a traditional remedy for any upper respiratory tract congestion, as in the case of a cold or seasonal allergies.
Berries: The berries arrive in later autumn and are packed with vitamin C and other anti-viral agents. The timing of the berries is also perfect as this is the time most people start coming down with colds and flu.
In spring the shrubby tree is covered with frothy pale cream flowers that most of us know well for making elderflower cordial. In addition to tasting delicious, these flowers are the key remedy for hayfever as it starts to cause problems with sufferers and can ease itchy eyes, nose and sneezing fits. Come the autumn and any flowers we have left on the tree turn to berries.
Luckily for us both flowers and berries taste wonderful and can easily be incorporated into foods and beverages to support our health.