Elderberry: Sambucus nigra.
This is a common hedgerow shrub in the UK and grows to almost 20ft. It has an umbrella like waxy white flowers which evolve into the purple berries. The flies have a strong dislike for the leaves which make them a nice shady fly free resting spot on warm sunny days for our horses. It’s one of the most important herbs because of its considerable medicinal powers and it is beneficial in all common ailments to man and animal. This shrub is steeped in legend and mystery. It is said that the cross of christ was made of elder and musical instruments made out of elder are supposed to ward off evil spirits, witches, and witchcraft. It is said that no gypsy will ever burn it and Judas was said to be hanged on an Elder tree. Also, it was one of Hippocrates favourite herbs. I have three of them growing in my fields and now I feel privileged at their presence. Also don’t forget the Elder wand is the most powerful wand ever made according to Harry Potter!
The leaves dried and powdered are an insect repellant. You can also take a handful of fresh bruised leaves pour a pint of boiling water over them and after cooling put into a spray bottle for a horse fly spray. Also, this can be brewed with stalks and twigs to have a longer effect. All parts are used in lots of different potion where the blossom is the most potent for internal use, where the foliage is best for external lotions used for ringworm and scabies. This is truly a diverse herb where berry juice mixed with honey is an excellent cough remedy, blossom is brewed in water or buttermilk for wounds and shaven roots can be used for kidney problems. A cold tea of dried berries can be given to colic cases. There is a great Elderberry syrup recipe for coughs. Which is 1 pint of berries, 2 pints water, 1-inch piece root ginger, peeled and sliced, 10 cloves. It contains flavonoids and is an antioxidant and without a doubt it boost the immune system. Many country folks sit down to a glass of hot Elderberry wine to ward off colds. Ointment from leaves is used for bruising and strains. Flowers in an ointment will treat burns and wounds.