Elder Flower

Its Origins and Uses

The elder flower comes from the Elder tree (Sambucus nigra) which has been recognised for centuries for its fragrance, taste and healing properties. It was known in Roman times and in ancient Greece.

It is particularly common in England where it was planted extensively in medieval times, not only for its many health benefits, but also because it was believed to ward off evil spirits.

So it was common to find it at every home, barn and corner of land across the country.

Naturally it was a tree that was then transported across the globe along with English explorers, conquerors and settlers. And so Elder trees are also now quite common across many continents.

Elder flowers are one of the most commonly known and used parts of the tree, but almost every other part can be used too - the bark, elder berries and the leaves. The flowers and berries can be used internally, while the bark and leaves can not.

Elderflowers in bloom.
Photo Credit: iStockPhoto

Elderflowers make a wonderful drink, and both elderflower cordial and "champagne" are very popular.

There are many foods, drinks and medicines that come from the parts of the Elder tree.

Here we have included some recipes that have natural skincare benefits.

Elderflower Remedies

This is great for softening the skin, as well as for the treatment of sunburn. It can be prepared in advance and is great to have on hand for the summer.


  • Elderflowers
  • Almond Oil
  • A large jar
  • A pan of hot water
  • A piece of muslin cloth for straining the mixture
  • Small jars with lids for storing the ointment


  • Place the muslin cloth into the jar so that the edges hang out over the sides of the jar.
  • Fill the muslin with elderflowers.
  • Add enough almond oil so as to cover the flowers.
  • Stand the jar in the pan of boiling water and simmer for about two hours.
  • Then draw up the muslin and squeeze the liquid into the jar.
  • Throw away the flowers.
  • Put fresh elderflowers into the cloth and repeat the process using the same oil.
  • Once you have simmered the mixture again, strain the cloth and remove.
  • Pour the liquid oil into small jars and put an airtight lid on.

    This is also good for healing sunburn, and great for your complexion.


  • A handful of freshly picked Elderflowers, with stalks removed
  • A large tablespoonful of dried Elder flowers

  • A large jar or heatproof jug
  • 1/2 a pint (250ml) of Boiling water
  • Glycerine
  • A piece of muslin cloth for straining the mixture
  • Small jars or bottles with lids for storing the ointment


  • Place the flowers into the jug.
  • Add a little glycerine to the flowers.
  • Pour the boiling water into the jug.
  • Leave to infuse.
  • Strain through the muslin cloth into small jars or bottles with airtight lids.

    Go from Elder Flower Remedies to more Sunburn Treatments

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