Flowers - raw or cooked. They are often covered in batter and made into fritters. The flowers can be picked when unopened, pickled and then used as a flavouring in candies etc. They can also be soaked in water to make a drink. A pleasant tasting tea is made from the dried flowers.Young shoots are said to be edible when cooked and to be used as an asparagus substitute though, since the leaves are also said to be poisonous, this report should be viewed with some doubt.
A tea made from the inner bark and root bark is diuretic, emetic and a strong laxative. A tea made from the root bark is used to promote labour in childbirth and in treating headaches, kidney problems and mucous congestion. The inner bark is also applied as a poultice to cuts, sore or swollen limbs etc in order to relieve pain and swelling. A poultice of the leaves is applied to bruises and to cuts in order to stop the bleeding. An infusion of the leaf buds is strongly purgative. Elder flowers are stimulant, diaphoretic and diuretic. A warm tea of the flowers is stimulant and induces sweating, taken cold it is diuretic. It is used in the treatment of fevers and infant colic. An infusion of the leaves and flowers is used as an antiseptic wash for skin problems, wounds etc. The fresh juice of the fruit, evaporated into a syrup, is laxative. It also makes a good ointment for treating burns when mixed with an oily base. The dried fruit can be made into a tea that is useful in the treatment of cholera and diarrhoea.Some caution should be exercised if using any part of the plant fresh since it can cause poisoning.
Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 7 - 10cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Cuttings of mature wood of the current season's growth, 15 - 20cm with a heel, late autumn in a frame or a sheltered outdoor bed.Division of suckers in the dormant season.
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A very hardy plant, when dormant it tolerates temperatures down to about -34°c. The flowers have a muscatel smell. A fast-growing but short-lived plant, it often forms thickets by means of root suckers. It is occasionally cultivated for its edible fruit, there are several named varieties, though these have mainly been developed for their ornamental value. Yields of up to 7kg of fruit per tree have been recorded.Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus.
Problems, pests & diseases
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