The Elder (Sambucus nigra) is a well known native tree often used in hedging. Elder has dark green pinnate leaves. Elder flowers have large, drooping fragrant, white flowered flat heads, which can be eaten in a thin batter fried, or made into a refreshing cordial or tea. Elder flower heads turn to small drooping purplish black berries in autumn. Elder berries are very popular with birds and will strip a tree in no time. berries can be made into wine or a fortifying juice to help ward off colds.
Useful as part of a wildlife or native hedge the Elder berries are attractive to birds, especially Blackcaps. Elder grow up to 60 cm a year. Elder have hollow branches which traditionally were used to tap syrup for Maple trees.
Elder can also be a valuable addition to a native farm hedging mix. Plant 2 to 3 per meter, trim once a year and it will develop into a dense hedge. Mixed native farm hedges are excellent for attracting birds and other wildlife as hedges play host to insects, berries and other sources of food for wildlife. Native mixed hedges also offer winter protection for wildlife.
Elder hedge plants will grow happily in a variety of conditions including both wet and dry fertile soils, and primarily in sunny locations.
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