If it ever stops raining, why not pop down to the nearest hedgerow and pick some berries to make a lovely elder linctus? It’s very easy to make and tastes delicious on its own or mixed with sparkling water, or even with cider or gin.
Many moons ago, elder was referred to as the medicine chest of country folk and was often used as a general strengthener. Traditionally, it was used for coughs and colds. On the basis of most sympathetic magic where ‘like cures like’ elder was used for lung conditions as the bare sprigs resemble the inside of lungs.
Elder wand, sprig and leaves
When I carried out research for my historical novel, Widdershins, which is about herbalists who end up being tried as witches, I went to Dilston Physic Garden to learn how to identify trees and plants and make herbal remedies from them.
Below is the recipe for elder linctus that I usually use, and it’s the same one that I adapted for use by Annie and Jane Chandler and Meg Wetherby in Widdershins.
Elder linctus recipe
Warning: The most important aspect of foraging for any wild food is making sure you know what you’re picking. I attach some pictures below that should help with identification, but if you’re in any doubt whatsoever, please seek advice from a professional herbalist, or from a tree expert.
As with all herbs, avoid giving elder to babies and children without seeking medical advice first. And if you’re pregnant, taking any medication, or have any medical condition, please seek medical advice before taking elder linctus.