Sambucus nigra - Elder

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

Elder in bloom, Burren, Ireland

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 aged specimen above is growing in limestone pavement on Ireland's famous Burren.

Elder in winter

The tree shown above 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

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