What Does it Look Like?
The flower of the elderberry plant grows on an umbrella-shaped construct known as an umbel. These umbels are rounded on the bottom and have multiple shoots attached, each one terminating in a flower. When all of the flowers have opened, you will find that the top of the umbel appears almost completely flat.
While the elderberry flower looks similar to other plants such as Queen Anne’s lace and water hemlock, its presence on a tree or shrub is the giveaway. Similar flowered umbels tend to grow right out of the ground rather than as part of a larger plant.
When Should Elderflowers be Picked?
Because the flowers on the Elderberry’s umbels mature and open from the outside in, wait until all of the flowers are open before picking. If the flowers are wet, wait until they are completely dry before harvesting or they will become dark and unusable.
Remember not to pick too many of the flowers when harvesting! Each flower will become a berry over the course of time. The more flowers you take, the fewer berries you’ll have later on.
How Do I Use Elderflowers?
Elder flowers can be used to make delicious edibles, including:
- Whipped toppings
There are many ways to incorporate this delicious flower into your diet; a simple internet search for “elderflower recipes” will yield a wealth of ideas.
Cosmetics are another use for elderflower blooms. Since the time of the ancient Egyptians, elderflower has been used in beauty products. The natural properties of the blossom are thought to include the ability to fade age spots, reduce wrinkles, rejuvenate the skin, and even to act as an antioxidant! Today, elderflower can be part of your beauty routine, as well! Many companies incorporate elderflower into their cosmetic products and there are plenty of recipes for do-it-yourself creation of fade creams, moisturizers, bath additives, and other beauty preparations.
Herbalists have relied on the elderflower for centuries to create remedies for conditions such as coughs, sinus problems, colds, flu, joint pain, and more. Again, an internet search will produce hundreds of medicinal preparations using this flower; be sure to read any warnings and talk to your doctor before using elderflower to treat any illness or condition.