The elder tree has earned a fearsome reputation in folklore and those of us who disturb one had best take note. The elder mother, the spirit of this tree, is said to be the ruler of the faery kingdom and if she is disturbed, the little people will be dispatched to play havoc with our lives!
I've never met the elder mother, but if she does exist she has an amazing sense of timing. In spring the shrubby tree is covered with frothy pale cream flowers that most of us know well for making elderflower cordial (actually, my favourite use for them is to make elderflower champagne!). In addition to tasting delicious, these flowers are the key remedy for hayfever as it starts to cause problems with sufferers and can ease itchy eyes, nose and sneezing fits. Come the autumn and any flowers we have left on the tree turn to berries.
Luckily for us both flowers and berries taste wonderful and can easily be incorporated into foods and beverages to support our health.