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Elder tree flowers - Photo  Copyright 2006 G. Bradley
Photo: G. Bradley

UK Safari Tip:
To help you identify different trees get the colourful fold out chart called "Tree Name Trail" - click here

Latin name: Sambucus nigra

Size: Can grow to 10m.

Distribution: Common. Found throughout the UK.

Flowering months: May to July.

Habitat: Will grow just about anywhere except on sandy soils. Often found in roadsides, hedgerows, woodlands, waste ground, railway sidings.

Special features: Elder trees produce long straight shoots which quickly harden into vertically ridged, cork-like, barked stems. The stems are often arched over and at the centre of the young stems is a soft white pith. The leaves, which are poisonous, are made up of 5-7 toothed edge leaflets. The cream coloured flowers grow together in parasol shaped clusters and give off a strong scent.

Click for a better viewThey soon produce green berries which darken to form the familiar black elderberries. They are sometimes known as 'Englishmans grapes', on account of their popularity with winemakers. The berries are poisonous when raw.

A lot of folklore and superstition surrounds the Elder tree. The branches are used to make magic wands for Wicca rituals, and it was believed that planting an elder tree near the house protected the occupants from evil witches.

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UK Safari Tree Section
UK Safari Plants + Trees Section

  2006 G. Bradley. All Rights Reserved