I don’t know about where you live, but here in Ohio you see Elder blooming along rural roads and farm fields in late spring/early summer. They really are a beautiful sight and their lovely floral smell is carried on the warm breezes.
The use of Elder goes way back, Greek physician Hippocrates recommended elder for a wide variety of complaints. Elder has alterative, antiseptic, diuretic, laxative, and anti-inflammatory (see curiosities below for definitions) properties. Elder is commonly used for colds, the flu, sinus infections, boosting your immune system, and other respiratory disturbances.
Elderflower in full bloom. The leaves, sticks, and roots of elder may be poisonous in large quantities; berries are only ingestible when cooked. Be 100% sure you have Elder, it can be confused with poisonous hemlock.
Elder Flower Water
1 cup fresh elder flower (or 1/2 cup dried)
3 cups boiled water
strainer or alternative method
Step one: Remove elder flowers from their stem by rolling them back and forth gently with your fingers. I used a bowl to catch the elderflowers.
You might meet some little friends while removing the flowers, so make sure you thoroughly pick through the flowers before moving on to the next step. This is a Goldenrod Crab spider, see curiosities below to learn more. Can you find her in the photo below?
Step two: Place 1 cup elderflowers in a jar. Boil 3 cups water, add to the flowers and let the mixture sit overnight.
Step three: Strain out the elderflowers and you have elder flower water! The color is not exactly appealing but it does smell pretty 😉
Elder Flower Face Wash
1 cup elderflower water
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Making elderflower face wash is super easy just add 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar to 1 cup elder flower water. Elder flowers are great for the complexion and can help combat acne. Dab on the face with cotton, no need to rinse but apple cider vinegar can be drying so you might want to follow up with a light moisturizer.
Elderflower syrup can help bring down a fever since elderflower has diaphoretic properties that can induce sweating.
Elder Flower Syrup
1/2 cup simmered elderflower water
1 cup honey
Simmer the 1/2 cup elderflower water for about 5 minutes . After it has simmered add roughly 1 cup honey to the mixture. Cap the mason jar tight and shake. Keep in the refrigerator, the honey should preserve it for a few months. I like to use this syrup by adding a few spoonful’s to hot water when my throat is hurting, adding a few tablespoons of lemon. It’s a real refreshing drink in cold carbonated water on a really hot day. You can also drizzle the syrup over vanilla ice cream.
alterative: enhances nutrition and repairs tissue
anti-inflammatory: reduces inflammation
antiseptic: prevents microbe growth
diaphoretic: induces sweating
diuretic: stimulates urination
The goldenrod crab spider has a chameleon-like ability to change color to white or yellow depending on the flower they inhabit. The one pictured above matched the elder flowers perfectly, I only spotted her due to movement.
What is the difference between a tree, a bush, and a shrub?
The stems and leaves of a bush almost always touch the ground, a shrub is a little bit taller and its leaves are more elevated, meaning they do not touch the ground. According to the National Park Service, “…trees are over 20 feet tall and have trunks more than 2 inches in diameter at 4.5 feet about the ground. Shrubs are smaller than trees and often have many small, woody, bark covered stems rising from the base.”
*Caution, I am not a doctor and don’t pretend to be one. I am 100% sure of the identification of the plants I harvest and research like mad before posting a recipe. Some books say Elderberry leaves, seeds, bark, stems and root are toxic. Only the berries, which must be cooked first, and the blossoms are edible. Use your best judgement when using plants from the wild.