The Wisdom of Elder

The wisdom of elder has pervaded many cultures around the world, and is well known for its gifts of food, medicine and utility. The elder (Sambucus mexicana) here in southern California is very abundant and producing large quantities of berries. Sambucus nigra is found growing in Europe, and is the elder found in the widely available Sambucol®. Studies using this elderberry tincture have been shown to significantly reduce the duration of flu. So, can we carry those same healing properties to our American species of Sambucus? It seems so. A recent study comparing elderberries across the continents found that the various species, regardless of which continent, contain very high levels of Vitamin’s A and C, powerful anthocyanins, and a long list of active medicinal compounds.

The Chumash revere her as the heartbeat tree, and the gypsy’s say a wish can be granted when asked sincerely. Be sure to be careful what you wish for, and remember to treat her with respect. The jars in the photo represent just a few of the ways in which elderflowers and elderberries can be preserved. Tomorrow’s video will highlight some of these preparations and uses. To see a recipe using elderflowers click here.


My friend Dan Rotblatt recently made this medallion for me. I asked him to use elderberry twigs for the base, which were then lost-wax cast into bronze. I love having the elder branches be the foundation of where my ancestor’s name Savage sits.

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