Elder is a common find in the understory of British woodlands. It is easily identified by its leaf, bark, flowers and fruit which it produces in abundance.
The wood is of no commercial use as it has a soft pithy centre not unlike willow. The bark is warty. Elder coppices well, regrowing quickly from the stump. lts berries are spread extensively by birds and will grow just about anywhere; its strong roots can easily topple walls or force through gaps in masonry.
You can buy very refreshing cordial drinks made from both the berries and the flowers. lt is also possible to get elder flower wine, The Liqueur ‘Sambuca’ is made from elder and is flavoured with a strong aniseed taste, The elder was extensively planted around dwellings and lavatories to keep flies away. lt was a common pastime to fashion blowpipes or pea shooters out of elder twigs.
The elder was thought to be a witch’s tree, or a fairy tree depending on your point of view, but it is always considered unlucky to cut it or burn it without first asking permission.