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Elderberry

Sambucus nigra

Elder flower, European elder (Eng.), Europese vlier (Afr.)

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'Elder' is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word 'Aeld', meaning fire, probably developed because the center of elder stems was used as tinder to start fires. It's easy propagation and resistance to pests explains the popularity of Elders with gardeners. Interesting for a shrub, valued highly by carpenters for making skewers, mathematical instruments and toys. It is also highly valued in the medicinal world.

Planning

Difficulty
Moderate
Flowering time
Summer
Fruiting time
Autumn

Harvesting

Flowers - early summer. Berries - late summer, early autumn.The first two years after planting elderberry bushes, do not bother picking the berries.

Propagation

Seed
Birds are the main dispersal agent of seeds by both regurgitation or defecation after eating the berries. Cross pollination is necessary. Sow seeds in the Spring. Plant seedlings one meter apart in rows that are about 4 meters apart.
Cuttings
Hard or softwood cuttings are used

Special features

Hedge plant
A good choice for a hedge as the flexible branches can easily be trimmed and set. Offering protection against wind and ideal habitat for birds.
Repels harmful insects
The leaves are used as an insect repellent.

Geography

Origin
Most of Europe, Northwest Africa and Southwest Asia.
Natural climate
They grow in most climates

Environment

Light
Full Sun
Soil moisture
Moist
Soil type
Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil PH preference
Alkaline
Frost hardiness
Tender

Uses

Medicinal
The leaves, flowers, fruits and root extracts are used to treat bronchitis, coughs, upper respiratory infections and fever. Infusions of the flower are used for colds, sinusitis, fevers and hay fever.
Edible
The dark purple berries can be eaten when fully ripe and are used to make jam, jelly and chutney. Elderberry cordial is made from Elderberry flowers.
Notes
Elderberry has medicinal and culinary uses. An ointment can be made to use on chilblains, sprains and bruises.

Personality

Family
Adoxaceae
Flower colour
White or cream coloured, Cream
Scent
Mild

Problems

Elder white wash fungus : use Fungicides or sprays containing copper; Glasshouse red spider mite - identify early on as it can be difficult to control as it breeds rapidly in warm conditions, use pesticides containing acetamiprid; verticillium wilt -sanitize all equipment on a regular basis, rotate with non-susceptible crops.
Two-spotted spider mite
Two-spotted spider mite
Tetranychus urticae

Companion plants

Grows well with other berries such as gooseberries.
Cape gooseberry
Cape gooseberry
Physalis peruviana

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