Pink elderflowers

Elderflowers: Pink Fizz

Time moves fast in the garden. One moment a plant is in full flower and the next it’s covered in seedheads or berries.

This year especially, with so much new work to do in the garden, I’ve been finding it difficult to keep up with all of the plants and flowers that I want to photograph. Sometimes I leave a plant too long and then find that the flowers have gone over before I get near them with my camera.

A few days ago I realised that the flowers on our bronze elder were almost gone and I really didn’t want to have to wait a year to have another chance.

Having chosen one of the last few flowers, I decided to photograph it indoors. This was the easiest way to get a sharp image. It has been quite breezy here recently and it takes very little to make the elder’s long branches sway – so not much chance of being able to focus on the flowers!

Of course, I could have collected some of the flowers to make elderflower cordial or ‘champagne’. The flowers can even be fried in batter to make fritters. Or the flowers could be left to produce berries for making an elderberry syrup.

(The syrup really doesn’t appeal to me because the berries contain cyanide and other toxic substances. These are destroyed in cooking, but  I still wouldn’t fancy chancing it!)

Other parts of the elder tree also contain cyanide, which may be behind the superstitious belief that burning the wood is unlucky.

There are many old beliefs surrounding the elder tree. These are a strange, inconsistent mixture! One one hand, it was said that if you burned the wood, you would see the devil but on the other hand, having the elder planted near your house would keep the devil away.

In early times, the elder was thought to be a protection against witchcraft and evil spirits but by medieval times, it was reckoned to be both the wood used for Christ’s cross and the tree on which Judas hanged himself.

Well, there’s no confusion for me. I simply enjoy the pretty flowers while they last and the beautiful lace-like leaves and dark berries too.

Flowers of Sambucus nigra 'Black Lace'-2121
The tiny pink flowers can be used to make elderflower cordial or ‘champagne’ – and it will be pink!

12 thoughts on “Elderflowers: Pink Fizz

  1. I love coloured elders and this is beautiful. I’ve re-tweeted you a nice use for a few elder flowers – combined with mint leaves in ice cubes. It’s a nice pic but I was also trying out a retweet directed only to you and it appears to have worked 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Liz! I love the bronze colour of the leaves and their delicate look. Those ice cubes are very pretty! (Your Twitter-ing is more advanced than mine, LOL!)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What beautiful looking little flowers! I have never heard of cyanide in Elderberries – that is a little disconcerting. I do not think I have ever had any Elderberry jam but I think it is available. I am with you, just keep the pretty blossoms around.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Syd! I love the tiny flowers. 🙂 A lot of plants, especially trees, contain chemicals which combine to create cyanide when they’re crushed – a natural protection against being eaten. Cooking would destroy the small amounts in berries, but some people have reactions to them…..!


    1. Thanks Jill! 🙂 A lot of plants, especially trees have cyanide-forming chemicals as a protection against being eaten. Cherry laurel has it in the leaves and other trees have it in the seeds, but it’s not released if the seeds aren’t crushed. Just shows that you can’t take plants too much for granted!

      Liked by 1 person

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