Family Name: Caprifoliaceae
Botanical Name(s): Sambucus nigra L.
Popular Name(s): Common Elder, Black Elder, American Elder,
Parts Used: The bark, leaves, flowers and berries
Habitat: Elder is found widely in North America and in Europe
Description: Elder grows up to 10m in height with a
trunk-diameter of up to 30cm. The bark is light grey in colour when
young but changes to coarse grey as it gains height. It possesses
feathery leaves. Its tiny, cream scented flowers are borne in summer,
followed by black berries. The flowers are arranged in rich, flat cymes.
They have a short, bell-shaped calyx and a rounded corolla composed of
creamy oval petals. The ovary has a sessile stigma divided into three to
five lobes, maturing into globular, glossy and blackish-purple drupes
containing the seeds.
Uses: Elder is bitter, pungent, have a diuretic and anti-mucus
effect. The leaves and bark are used externally to treat minor burns and
chilblains. The flowers are effective to cure sore eyes, irritated and
inflamed skin, mouth ulcers and minor injuries. These are used to lower
fever, reduce inflammation and sooth irritation also. The fruits are
used for their analgesic effects, as well as for their laxative and
diaphoretic properties. They are used in rheumatic complaints also.