Elderberry is most well-known for its fruit, but you can also grow elderberries for their flowers. American elder is a fast-growing bush that will tolerate a variety of conditions and requires little care and maintenance. Consider adding this to your garden for visual interest, flowers, and berries.
The flowers of the elder have been used for centuries and longer, but in modern times have been forgotten by many. Whether you want to add an elder to your garden to add shade and a new shrub or to try the flowers, growing it will be easy. It will grow well in full sun and partial shade and in nearly any type of soil, from clay to sandy. Pruning is important, though, to maintain a nice rounded shape and to keep the shrub healthy.
What are Elderberry Flowers Used for?
Elderflower uses are plentiful; people have been using them for medicine and food and drink for centuries. The aroma of elderflower is enticing and the flavor is floral with notes of vanilla and spice.
You can make elderflowers into cordial and syrup, and then use those products to make a range of drinks and foods. They can also be used to flavor wine and beer or to make tea. As a food, elderflowers are tasty in baked goods and desserts.
Medicinally, elderflowers have been used to treat a variety of conditions and symptoms, although you should always consult with your doctor before trying any herbal medicine. Elderflower has been used to treat sinusitis, constipation, colds, the flu, coughing, inflammation, laryngitis, and diabetes.
Picking elderberry flowers is easy, but you do need a good pair of shears or clippers. Harvest the flowers that have just opened up and that still look clean and white with no darker spots. Clip the stem about four to six inches (10 to 15 cm). below the flower cluster.
These delicate blooms won’t last long, so plan to use them or preserve them the same day. To preserve elderflowers, you can dry them or make them into a syrup that can be used in a variety of dishes later. To dry the flowers, lay them out on a screen and turn several times over a few days. Remove the flowers from the stems and store them in a sealed bag.
Growing elderflowers is rewarding and easy, but you may also be able to harvest the flowers and berries from local wild shrubs. Elder are common, so look around your neighborhood to see what you can forage. Just be sure you know how to identify it correctly.