Here at Higher Bowden Holiday Cottages we are home to quite a few ‘Elders’, which are currently in flower. It is something that we look forward to each year as our Housekeeper enjoys making it into Elderflower Cordial, which we enjoy with sparkling water and served over ice.
The Elder belongs to the genus Sambucus and is a member of the Elderberry family (Adoxaceae) and can have a lifespan of up to 60 years.
It is a small tree or shrub with a short trunk (bole) producing many erect, straight suckers. Its bark is grey-brown, corky and deeply furrowed and it twigs and branches have soft pith at their core. The leaves are opposite and pinnate with five to seven leaflets (each 3–9cm long), oval and toothed, with a pungent scent.
Elders are hermaphrodite: they have ‘perfect’ flowers with both sexes represented in one flower. Flowers are grouped in a large flat-topped umbel with many branches (10–20cm across). Individual flowers are approximately 5mm, with five petals and five stamens, and creamy in colour with a heavy, sweet scent. Fruits are a black edible berry (6–8mm) and appear late August to September.
If you would like to make some cordial – here is the recipe that we follow here at Higher Bowden Holiday Cottages.