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The Dorset hedgerows show white flowers from April (Blackthorn) through May (Hawthorn) and into June when Elder is in full flower. 

Elder is very common throughout the county in hedgerows, woodland edges and scrubby areas. It tends to thrive near Rabbit colonies as the Rabbits hate it and leave it alone preferring to eat all the other plants instead!
These large, flat, cream-coloured flower heads are ideal for insects of all kinds and if you stop to look you will find flies, bees and beetles all making a good living from them. They have little problem in getting pollinated and come September they will be bearing the lovely red berries adored by birds and home wine makers. 
Elder is a member of the Honeysuckle family which I find surprising.


  • Elder: red red wine

    Post date: Wednesday, 24 September, 2014 - 00:00

    The lovely flat, cream-coloured flower heads of elder (Sambucus nigra) that are abundant in hedgerows in June produce clusters of dark purple, almost black, berries in the autumn. These berries are a great favourite with birds as they build up strength and fat reserves for the hardship of winter to follow.

    Elder is found the world over and there are many differing subspecies of which the black berried 'nigra' is the most common in southern England. The red-berried and smaller variety, 'racemosa' is found in cooler, more northerly areas.

    As with many of our hedgerow fruits elder berries are popular with us human-kind too. Elderberry wine is a favourite with home wine makers as it makes a lovely deep red claret coloured wine (although I have to say I prefer the real thing!). They can also be made into a jelly preserve for your morning toast. These berries have long been associated as a cure for just about every ailment under the sun but recent research shows that they may be beneficial in treating allergies and respiratory problems.

    Whilst the berries of the black elder are not considered poisonous they should be cooked before consumption!


Common Name Elder
Scientific Name Sambucus nigra
Species Group Hedgerow Shrubs
Interest Level
Look for
Identification Notes
Primary Habitat
Family Honeysuckle family - Caprifoliaceae
Status Common
Flower Colour Group White
  • 06 - June
  • 07 - July
Preferred Environment
Look for hedgerow shrub with flat creamy flower heads
Additional Identification Notes
Similar Species

The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Notebook Distribution Map Sites List Some Charts Some Photographs Recent Records Guidance Notes

To see related species click here: 

Hedgerow Shrubs