Unusual & Old Fashioned Fruit Trees

 The Elderberry - Sambucus

Elderberry trees have always been very common in hedgerows everywhere and we all know how wildlife and birds in particular love the Elderberry with its small, soft, dark, purple berries, held in large clusters.  When they are ripe the birds splatter everywhere with purple spots after they have eaten them.  Not so many years ago people used to pick baskets full of the berries while walking down country lanes, but nowadays people do not bother picking them because the berries are so soft and squash easily when picked staining hands and clothes purple. Whatever state the berries are in after picking though they can easily be used to make jam if they are boiled up with sugar.  When I was a youngster the Women’s Institute nearly always had pots of Elderberry jam for sale on their stalls at every village fete.  As with nearly all fruits the berries can also be used to make wine and Elderberry wine used to be a favourite of many country people. Not so long ago when you visited people away from the towns, you nearly always used to be offered a glass of Elderberry wine to tickle your palette.

Some people still make use of the Elderberry as very occasionally a few high class restaurateurs pick their fairly large scented flower heads and have their chefs dip them in batter.  After frying the flowers are then served as a special little side dish.

The Elderberry tree is a native to Europe and as such, propagates readily from berries, is completely hardy to our climate and will grow almost anywhere. However, although it is relatively small growing it will throw up many suckers and therefore needs attention if it is to be grown in a small garden.  A more ornamental variety with dark red leaves is sometimes seen for sale at garden centres and nurseries.


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