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European Elder

Price: $ 22.00

Sambucus nigra

Hardy deciduous shrub tolerant of many soils and situations, including windy and maritime locations (tolerant of salt winds). Known as a 'medicine chest' this is an extremely useful plant to have in the garden, although the leaves are poisonous. The flowers can be eaten raw, dipped in batter and fried, used to flavour other stewed fruits, and to make a lemonade or sparkling wine. The berries can be used raw or cooked, fresh or dried, to add colour and flavour to other fruit preserves, or made into wine. The inner bark, flowers and leaves have a myriad of medicinal uses. In the garden the flowers are fragrant and attractive to insects, and the berries can help to entice birds away from your target fruit crops. The flowers can also be added to compost heaps to help activate the decomposition process. The leaves can be made into an insecticidal spray or powdered and dusted around the garden. They can also be rubbed onto skin as a mosquito repellent. Different parts of the plant yield various colour dyes, and the mature wood is white and fine-grained, easily cut and polished, and therefore prized for making small items such as toys. All this from one plant!  Plants need some moisture to get established but are drought hardy once older. Sun or part shade. Height to 6m and suckers can spread to 6m, but the whole plant can be cut to ground level if desired and will regrow well. PB8.

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