Medicinal Monday – Black Elder

August 13th, 2012 by sivodd

Black Elder

Botanical Name: Sambucus Nigra

Photo by Vietnam Plants & America plants

This European plant also known as “bourtree”, has Pre-Christian documents attributing protective and healing powers to the black elder. In England, it was believed bad luck to cut its branches for fear of showing disrespect to the mother elder, who was thought to inhabit the tree.

Plant Facts:

  • It is a member of the honeysuckle family and can grow to a height of 33 ft.
  • The Elder is sweet smelling and spicy, but the somewhat bitter tasting flowers produces blackish-purple fruits with an aromatic, tart taste.
  • The stalk and branches contain a white, fluffy pulp.


  • Native to Europe, North Africa and western and central Asia, it thrives throughout lowland forests and along roads and fences and often found in farmhouse gardens.

Parts Used:

  • The flowers and ripe berries are used medicinally.
  • Harvest as the plant begins to blossom.


  • The black elder flowers contain flavonoids, rutin, mucins and tannins and a large portion of organic acids and calcium.
  • The berries contain fruit acids, vitamins B and C and folic acid, as well as essential oils.


  • Also described as a “complete medicine chest”, black elder induces perspiration.
  • Take in the form of a hot drink when you have a feverish cold.
  • Elder also promotes expectoration, which makes it a good treatment for coughing and bronchitis.
  • The pulps of the berry and the freshly pressed juice have a diuretic and laxative effect on the body.
  • Avoid the red berry species of elder, as it can irritate the digestive system and make you feel nauseous.

Types of Applications

Tea flowers:

  • Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 2 large tsp. of dried elder flowers.
  • Strain after 10 min.
  • Drink 1-2 cups of freshly prepared tea several times, daily.

Tea from berries:

  • Add enough cold water to cover approximately 2 large tsp. of dried elder berries and allow to stand for several minutes.
  • Slowly bring the water-berry mixture to a simmer.
  • Simmer for 10min., strain and drink.

Juice, syrup:

  • Take the stems from 2 lb. of ripe berries.
  • Squeeze the juice from the berries into a saucepan, add about 1 lb. of sugar.
  • Boil for 5 min.
  • Skim the foam from the surface, fill canning jars with the syrup and seal white hot.
  • Prepared syrup is also available from pharmacies and health food stores.
  • To prevent or to treat a cold, drink the heated juice or syrup dissolved in hot water.


  • Boil about 1 lb. of ripe elderberries with 1 cup of water and 2 diced apples.
  • Put through a sieve and sweeten to taste.
Tip: An old folk remedy for burns is a paste made of elder and milk. Boil freshly picked, chopped flowers in enough milk to make a thick paste. Allow to cool and apply to the affected part of the skin.


  • The Complete Guide to Natural Healing

Note: Consult with a Physician or certified herbologist if you are seeking medical remedies. The information is not intended as medical advice. is not liable for the misuse of the herb listed above.

Thanks for stopping by! Well wishes to you all, have a great day!


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