Sambucus nigra - Elder

Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Magnoliopsida - Order: Dipsacales - Family: Caprifoliaceae

Elder in bloom

The elder is a fragile tree, often growing as a bush. Its hollow stems tend to fracture unless it grows in a very sheltered spot. The tree shown here is growing against a wall, which protects the fragile young trunks - many exposed Elders split long before they grow big enough to withstand strong winds. This is the tree on which we are told that Judas hanged himself.

Elder leaves

The leaves are pinnate, with five to seven oval and toothed leaflets.

Bark of an old Elder tree

The flowers are used to make cordial and white wine. The leaves, however, are poisonous.

Elder flowers

The ripe berries, popular with birds, are used to make preserves and as the basis of a red wine.

Elder berries