Spotlight: Respect your Elders

We’re back with another blog focused on one of the most popular trees that are native to Britain. You can see our other spotlights on beech and ash to get you up to speed!

This blog is dedicated to the Elder tree. Elder trees have a bit of a shorter life span compared to other trees and can live for up to 60 years. Despite them having a relatively short trunk, they can grow up to around 15m and can be identified by their grey/brown, furrowed bark. Another distinguishing feature is the fact they have relatively few branches.

You’ll often find Elder trees near rabbit warrens or badger setts and this is because their droppings disperse seeds of the tree nearby.

Elder trees are important to British wildlife as their flowers provide nectar for a range of insects, their berries provide food for birds and mammals, including dormice and voles, and moth caterpillars feed on Elder foliage.

We use Elder trees for a variety of purposes. The hard and yellow-white wood is used for whittling and carving, as well as small craft items. The flowers are used to make a variety of things such as wine, cordial, tea and even fritters. Whilst the berries are used in preserves, wines and dyes. However, the flowers and berries are mildly poisonous so should always be cooked before consumption.

The name Elder is thought to come from the Anglo-saxon word “aeld” which means fire. It was thought that if you burned the wood of the tree the devil would appear, however if you planted an Elder tree by your house it would keep him away!

Some threats that Elder trees face include black fly and the sap-sucking red spider mate.

If you have a problem with an Elder in or near your property, you can call your favourite tree surgeon in Manchester, (that’s us!), to come and look at it for you.

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