Hello, it’s an honour to write a column each week and a short background history; I moved to the Wagga area in 2002, started my own business in 2006 and now teach yoga, make soaps and natural body products following my passion for using herbs in a traditional village-herbalist’s way.
I am excited to lead you into a more natural world which will unfold as the weeks progress.

The flowers of the Elder tree

My first instalment is about Elder trees – their amazing medicinal properties and the folk lore which surrounds them. They probably have more lore and superstitions associated with them than any other plant. If you fell asleep under an elder tree in full bloom you would be carried to the realms of faeries and in Germanic lore the belief was the Goddess of Life and Death lived in the tree.
Leaving the folk lore, the flowers and berries have traditionally been used as healing medicines including by the Greek physician, Hippocrates (460-370BC). My elder trees are in full bloom at present ready to make elderflower cordial.
Elderflower cordial is delicious and, in summer, I add sparkling mineral water to make a refreshing drink. Elderflower has been used medicinally for hundreds of years because of its richness in antioxidants. Its centuries-old healing properties have been used as a remedy for coughs, colds, hay fever and even rheumatism, so much so that it has acquired the nickname of Nature’s Medicine Chest.
In winter the elder tree yields berries that I make into elderberry syrup, which has a devoted following in Wagga. The syrup has traditionally been used for lowering cholesterol, improving heart health, fighting against viral and bacterial infections, and, most importantly, for boosting the immune system, especially against winter viruses.