Saturday, January 7, 2012

Guide to Finding Elder Trees in Winter


Elder tends to be between 5 and 10 foot tall,( but I have read some types grow taller), with branches that branch outwards from the base. They sucker, so it is common to find multi-stemmed sprawling thickets.


You can see in the above photo how many branches rather grow swooping out from the base. Some do grow more upright and don’t show the graceful swoop until they are loaded with leaves, flowers/berries.


A telling feature for identification is the warty like growths on the bark. Just little rough raised areas, (scabrous),as you can see in the above picture.The bark itself looks rather grayish with a very light red cast to it. 


When cut, you can see the stem is filled with a light, porous pith.




I hope this helps any of you who are having trouble identifying elderberry trees in the winter!

Big herbal and honey hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx


Sherri B. said...

I don't think we have Elder here in the Pacific Northwest USA. I am going to check Google and Bing right now. Have a great weekend!

Comfrey Cottages said...

I know you do Sherri! I will be making a post on making a salve with elder bark for bruising soon, so I hope you find one so you can experiment with me!! xxx If you care to, of course:) hugs and love

Rowan said...

I don't have far to go to find elder tress in winter - the bottom of my garden has 4 or 5 of them:) I do recognize them in the wild though and as we are having a very mild winter some are already sprouting tiny new leaves. I've never used elder bark though so will be interested in seeing your post on the salve

Rita M said...

You could not explain it better Leslie.

Comfrey Cottages said...

Rowan, I have planted some elderberry in my gardens. I was amazed that within a year, they flowered and set fruit! Not alot, but more than I expected. It can be hard for me to get away and go foraging sometimes, and I adore elder, so had to plant some:) That is so nice you already have so many easily accessible! We are having a mild winter and my garden elders have tiny buds also. Which worries me, as it is way, way too early for that here in central Illinois! We are having another bright sunny day with moderate temps today. I am so worried we will be slapped by our usual frigid, icy, snowy weather and stunt this years harvest! xx
Thanks Rita! I know a couple of our fellow apprentices were struggling with identification, so hoping this helps them! xxxx

Sarah Head said...

Thank you so much for doing this, Leslie! SherriB, you do have an elder you can use, but it may not be sambucus niger, I know I found another species on the Columbia river gorge in Oregon.

Comfrey Cottages said...

My pleasure Sarah!
Sherri, you probably have Sambucus nigra subsp. cerulea. I have several friends in your area and that is the type they find! So probably what you found, Sarah xxx

Cheryl said...

Tku for leaving a comment on my blog.
Elder is one of my favourite shrub/tree. Lucinda @ whispering earth has inspired me to make tinctures etc. I made elderberry and have used it when I have a cold etc. It is wonderful.

BTW rabbits will not touch elder as they really dislike the smell and taste :)

fiona said...

Hello! How wonderful that you are doing the apprenticeship .. I wish you lots of fun and will enjoy popping back to see what you're up to. Found this post really helpful, as I am new to the countryside and while I am enjoying rambling about, I know nothing! Many thanks :-)

Comfrey Cottages said...

thanks for stopping by cheryl! that is so cool that lucinda has inspired you with herbal medicine making:) nice tidbit about rabbits not nibbling elder. i have a garden full of rabbits that LOVED the baby sasafrass saplings i planted, but never touched the elders! lol!xx

thanks for visiting Steph:) Glad you found the post helpful:)You are most welcome. I appreciate the feedback! xxx

(Arya) Paige said...

Could you by any chance write a post on planting or transplanting elders? Most of the elders near here are in places that I fear they are too close to contamination for use. Thanks!

Comfrey Cottages said...

Arya, sure I will! Can you tell me what part of the world you are in? Maybe I can help source you saplings?xx

(Arya) Paige said...

Oh, cool! I'm in southeast Georgia. Nicholls actually, not far from Waycross. Like I said, I know where some rather large elder trees are (not in very good locations) and they still haven't lost their green. It's been a very mild winter and some are still flowering.

Comfrey Cottages said...

Arya, I will try and get a post up for you in the morning on how to start elderberry from seed, or how to transplant/plant it and list some sources where you can buy saplings reasonably, that were grown in good clean conditions. I know what you are saying. About two years ago I finally bought some saplings and planted in my own gardens as many of the "wild" ones were too near fields, or ditches etc. My friend Val has a nice big stand in her big back yard, which is clean, but I thought how handy it would be to be able to go out into my own yard! lol! These I planted, and I will name the source in the post, grew soooo quickly they had flowers and berries the first year after planting! Not enough to have but a few, but still, I bet this year I will have a decent little harvest from them! Been a mild winter here too. Just actually had the first snow last week, which is unusual. Your longer growing season will make yours bigger faster! Nice! xxx

Steve Flanagan said...

I look forward to more elder posts.

Anonymous said...

Thanks! This is exactly what I was looking for.

Comfrey Cottages said...

You will see some Steve!
glad it was helpful for you anonymous!