Woodland Trust

Nature's CalendarNature Detectives

Have you spotted the first flowering of elder yet?

Elderflowers. Margaret Bartonelder

Sambucus nigra


Why not download
our elder fact sheet?

elder fact sheet

  • Elderberries. Paul FosterDeciduous shrub
  • Browny-grey, twisted trunk and branches
  • Leaves similar to Ash, with toothed leaflets opposite one another
  • Clusters of tiny white flowers with a musky scent
  • Drooping clusters of round, green berries ripen to black in autumn

Try our delicious elderflower bubbly recipe

elderflower bubbly elderflower bubbly

Where found

Very common in hedges, waste ground, woodland edges and scrub on fertile, moist soils throughout the UK

When to look for

  • Leaves from March - view live map
  • Flowers in June - view live map
  • Leaves drop in October/November - view live map 
  • Fruit ripe in September/October - view live map

    Fabulous elder facts 
    • Elderflower cordial and elderberry wine are popular uses of the flowers and fruit

    • The Romans used elderberry juice as a hair dye

    • Elderberry syrup makes an effective cold remedy

    • The word elder comes from the Anglo Saxon word aeld meaning “fire”

    • The hollow stems of the young branches were used for blowing air into a fire

    • The stems have also been used to make simple flutes, whistles and peashooters

    • Some people find elder flowers fragrant, others think the smell is unpleasant

    • The flowers are very popular with insects, and the berries are sought after by birds

    • The leaves are very pungent and make an effective insect repellent