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Spring | Elder leaf


Meet Elder leaf, from the tree that is an entire medicine chest in itself, supplying us with remedies throughout the year.
You might know some of her other names such as elderberry, bore tree, mother elder, lady ellhorn, pipe tree, black elder or Sambucus Nigra



Watch the elder leaf video embedded at the bottom of this page - also available to watch on YouTube and Vimeo.

Elder is a tree that is an entire medicine chest in itself,

supplying us with wonderful remedies throughout the year:

we can use the leaves in spring,

the flowers in summer and the berries in autumn.

The elder tree is a small tree, often described as shabby and untidy,

and can be found growing throughout the UK

in woodlands, hedgerows, parks and scrubland.

The young bark is often covered in what look like brown warts

but as the tree matures, the bark becomes furrowed and corky.

Later in the year,

the tree will be covered in clusters of creamy-white flowers

which are followed by purple-black berries in the autumn.

Traditionally, Elder leaf was used externally as a

first-aid treatment for wounds, sprains and bruises

and as an insect repellent

It was also used as an external treatment for haemorrhoids or piles,

which are basically varicosed veins in your bum!

For the first aid treatment of wounds, sprains and bruises,

elder leaf poultice is great if you have them at hand

simply mash up the leaves until the juices are released,

then hold in place over the affected area with a bandage.

The leaves are also said to be a highly effective insect repellent

and can be gently crushed and rubbed directly onto the skin

to keep away mosquitoes and summer midges.

Many people find the smell of elder leaves slightly unpleasant

I guess insects do as well!

Here is a recipe for elder leaf ointment

a traditional treatment for  haemorrhoids,  

To make elder leaf ointment, take a handful of elder leaves

and add them to a stainless steel or enamel pot

Along with 100ml of sunflower oil.

Put the pot in a tray filled with water to create a double boiler

and gently heat the leaves in the oil

for 2-3hrs until the leaves are crisp.

Make sure your pot has a lid.

When the leaves are finally crisp, strain the mixture 

and return the infused oil to the pot.

Add about 10g beeswax (or shea butter)

and stir this in until completely melted in the infused oil.

Pour straight into jars and label

Give the spent elder leaves to the compost

This ointment is cooling and astringent

and so is perfect for helping painful haemorrhoids,

retreat back inside where they should be!