Elderberry the Herb of the Year 2013

The name elderberry was derived from from the Anglo Saxon Ellaern or Aeld which means fires or kindle and this wood was used to keep fires going. There were others who believed that if this wood was used, you would see the devil. The generic name, Sambucus, dates from early Greece and may be a reference to sambuke, a harp made from elderwood. Pipes were made from the branches, perhaps even the original Pan pipes. Flutes and other musical instruments were made from elderwood in countries in Eastern Europe.
Elderberries, which were used more often by our pioneer ancestors than in present day are a tasty fruit that we can use in making jellies, jams, chutneys, pies, and wines. The dried blossoms are using in various blends of teas and in making cordials. Elderflower syrup made in France is used in the United States in making marshmallowa. Fanta makes a soft drink called “Shotaka” from this syrup that can be found in fifiteen countries. The Italian liqueur Sambuca is flavored with oil obtained from elderflowers. In Germany, yogurt desserts are made from both berries and flowers.
Elderberries were in use as long ago as the Stone Age. Throughout history they have been believed to be harbingers of both good and evil. For example, in ancient times, no carpenter would make a cradle of elderberry wood fearing this would somehow harm the baby. In some countries, witches were believed to dance around elderberry bushes and in other countries it was believed that planting an elderberry bush outside of the back door would keep witches out of the house.