earlier post about recognising summer flowers and their uses.
The Wild Larder
We can also treasure the time spent alone foraging. The repetition of gathering wild food allows the mind to relax – we can’t fret about household chores and work when we’re out there stocking up our wild larder. The creamy-white flowers of the Elder can be found in woods, hedgerows and waste places and as Richard Mabey writes in Food For Free:
…to see the mangy, decaying skeletons of elders in the winter, we would not think the tree was any use to man or beast. Nor would the acrid stench of the young leaves in spring change your opinion. But by the end of June the whole shrub is covered with great sprays of sweet-smelling flowers, for which there are probably more uses than any other single species of blossom…
Elderflowers can be eaten fresh from the shrub on a hot summer’s day and have the taste of a frothy ice-cream soda; while the flowers separated from the stalks make a remarkable sparkling wine. Dipped in batter the flower-heads can be deep-fried and served as fritters to end a summer meal. The berries are small and green at first, ripening to deep purple clusters that weigh down the branches. These are made into wine, chutney, jellies and ketchup.
Any witch worth her salt, of course, knows that the elder is also known as the ‘poor man’s medicine chest’ due to the wide range of herbal remedies that can be got from the shrub. The flowers are utilised to raise the resistance to respiratory infections, and ointment made from elder flowers is excellent for chilblains and stimulating localised circulation. The flowers are also used in hay fever treatments for their anti-catarrhal properties. Medicinally, both the berries and the flowers encourage fever response and stimulates sweating, which prevents very high temperatures and provides an important channel for detoxification. To cure warts, rub them with a green elder twig which should then be buried. As the wood rots so the wart will disappear.
You can view Pagan Portals: The (Inner-City) Path on Amazon. It is published by Moon Books, and you can see Melusine Draco's author page. Note: Any references to the healing properties of plants is for information purposes, not medical advice.