Prices include delivery to mainland UK. £50 minimum order. 30/5: Seed orders typically delivered inside a week, plug plants 2 to 3 weeks.

Common elder
Elder, Sambucus nigra

Elder (Sambucus nigra)

The Elder, Sambucus nigra, is a very fast growing, short lived, adaptable small tree or large shrub which will do well in most soil conditions. In truth it has a rather untidy habit, although its flowers and lacy leaves are very pretty - there are many colourful cultivars of the common Elder too. The native tree should be cut out of hedges as it tends to take over; it's said to produce a chemical that suppresses surrounding species - i.e. it is allelopathic - but is a must in a forest garden. It's also known as the Elderberry or Elderflower tree. The elders we sell are grown in the UK from UK origin seed - like all the native plants we sell. Please scroll down for more details.
Regular price
£3.95
Regular price
Sale price
£3.95
Unit price
per 
Availability
Relisting in summer for delivery from November 2022
Prices include VAT and delivery to mainland UK.

Elder (Sambucus nigra)

Uses

Elder's many plates of fragrant white flowers are helpful for insects and cordial makers alike (try them lightly fried, too - in fact, there are lots and lots of Elder recipes), and birds and winemakers can split the berries between them. Don't eat any part of the plant raw, however - leaves, flowers and berries are poisonous. Processed, however, Elderflower cordial is also said to be a sedative, the flowers a good skin tonic, and rubbed on the skin Elder leaves work as an insect repellent. It used to be all the rage with herbalists, who recommended its use to treat all sorts of complaints, from gout to nosebleeds. John Evelyn called it “a kind of Catholicon against all infirmities whatever”. Elderberries are high in vitamin C, too, and will make a useful dye. The stems of a coppiced Elder tree are very useful around the garden - hollow and light, but surprisingly strong and reluctant to rot. "Aeld" is Anglo Saxon for fire - the idea is that folk used elder stems to blow through to get a fire going. The wood of mature trees is hard and good to carve.

Value For Wildlife

Sambucus nigra attracts a lot of wildlife including the elder aphid (and of course ladybirds), and at least a dozen moths use it as a food plant. Small mammals eat the berries and flowers, which also attract a range of pollinators.

Mythology

Elder is said to be very bad luck to bring Elder into the house and particularly to burn it, but grow it outside to block the entry of rats and the devil! Curiously, in Medieval times it was said to be the tree from which Judas hanged himself. Along with the Judas Tree ...

Our Plants For Sale

Like all our native trees, our Elders are grown in the UK from UK origin seed.

Suppliers: Perrie Hale Forest Nursery, RV Roger, British Hardwood Trees.

See our planting and size guide for details and tips on planting Elder trees.

All these Elder trees are bare root, and are consequently available for delivery from November until March. During the lifting season there may be up to two weeks delay between placing the order and dispatching due to weather conditions or pressure of orders, which are dealt with in date sequence. Orders placed for Elder trees between March and October are confirmed for dispatch from November.

Size

  • Ultimate Height

    8m

  • Ultimate Spread

    4m

  • Time to Ultimate Height

    20 years

Soil

  • Type

    Clay, loam, sand, chalk

  • pH

    Neutral, acid, alkaline

Situation

  • Position

    Sheltered or exposed

  • Sunlight

    Full or partial sun

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