Herb of 2013: Elder

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elderberry Family: Caprifoliaceae

: Small tree with tiny white flowers and dull green leaves. Produces clusters of purple-black berries. Blooms in June.
Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) also called elder flower, is a tree that bears cream-colored flowers followed by dark purple berries in autumn. Elderberry trees are native to Europe, but have been naturalized to the Americas, and have a long history of medicinal use, particularly in England, where it is commonly used to make elderberry wine and pies, and was once referred to as “nature’s medicine chest.”

Elderberry came into the popular vocabulary through the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  The French knight taunts the English, "Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!"