Elder is a small tree, popular for gardens. It was once thought that if you burned elder wood you would see the devil, but if you planted elder by your house it would keep the devil away. The fragrant flowers appear in May - June and can be used to make elderflower cordial. The vitamin C rich berries ripen in late summer and are used to make preserves and wine. In folklore, standing under an elder tree at Midsummer, like standing in a Fairy Ring of mushrooms, will help you see the fairies.
Estimate full grown height: 10 metres or more, but its height can be controlled by pruning. Elder trees grow an estimated 30-60cm each year.
Purchase size and growth: These trees are cell-grown saplings, ranging from approximately 15cm-60cm in height. Cell grown trees can be planted all year round in most situations as long as they are given the correct care. Please be aware that depending upon the time of year you receive your sapling (particularly early spring) it may not look very perky upon arrival, please do not worry once it has been planted it should pick up quickly.
Please note: All parts of the plants are mildly poisonous and should be cooked before eating.
Value to wildlife: The flowers provide nectar for insects and the berries are eaten by birds and mammals. Small mammals such as dormice and bank voles eat both the berries and the flowers. Many moth caterpillars feed on elder foliage, including the white spotted pug, swallowtail, dot moth and buff ermine.
Preferred soil type or environmental conditions: Grows everywhere except on sands and prefers rich fertilised soils.
UK and Ireland Sourced and Grown (UKISG): Every sapling that we provide is UK and Ireland sourced and grown to minimise the risk of importing and spreading tree pests and diseases. Seeds are collected and stored in the UK and Ireland, and they are all coded and batched so that we can track each individual tree.
Learn more about this species on our elder profile.