Elder Sambucus nigra

A shrub or small tree which grows in hedgerows and woods throughout Britain. It is also native to Europe, North Africa and south west Asia. The fruit is used to make wine and has many medicinal uses, but the seeds and other plant parts are toxic. It is easily recognised in spring when it bears flat plates of white flowers and in autumn from its black berries. In winter it has distinctive branches with big purple buds. Click on any photo to enlarge it.

Elder tree

Elder tree in August.

Elder shrub

Elder shrub in September.

Elder  pinnate leaf

There are 5 to 7 tooth-edged leaflets on each leaf. This is a pinnate leaf.

Elder  opposite leaves

The leaves are in opposite pairs.

Elder  fruit

The flowers are in flat-topped clusters called cymes. Photo taken at the end of June.

Elder  flowers

Fruit (Elderberries) in late September

Elder  tree bark

The bark of a mature Elder tree has criss-crossed ridges. Young Elder shrubs have grooved bark.

Elder  buds

The buds are opposite and are large, purple and look ragged. Photo taken in January