Latin name: Sambucus nigra f. porphyrophylla
Location: Wash House Gardens
What it looks like: A large deciduous shrub/small tree with deep purple/black delicate leaves. The flowers are a light pink and the berries a deep red/purple.
History: Elder trees are native to the UK but the Black Elder variety, as grown in the Wash House Gardens, was only bred relatively recently in the late 90s and early 00s following 10 years of development!
How to eat it: The delightful pink flowers can be used to make cordials, and wine staining the liquid the colour of the flowers. The fruits are also edible (only when cooked!) and can be made into jams and jellies or used in pies. The other parts of the tree should not be eaten.
More information: The fruits are rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants and a great food source for birds. And finally…If you’re superstitious then you should avoid burning the wood of elder trees as this can apparently cause a curse!