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Botanical name:


A COMMON wild shrub; it grows irregularly. The stem or trunk is covered with a rough whitish bark, and the wood is firm, but there is a hollow within; this is smallest in the largest parts of the shrub, but it is never quite obliterated. The young shoots are thick, long, and green; they grow quick, and are often a yard long before they begin to change colour, or grow woody. These contain a large quantity of pith; and their bark as they stand be comes brownish, and their under surface woody. The leaves are composed of several pairs of others, with an odd one at the end: the flowers stand in vast clusters, or umbels, and are small and white; they are succeeded by berries, which are black when ripe, and are full of a purple juice. There is another kind of elder, with berries white when they are ripe, and another with jagged leaves, but the common elder is the sort to be used.

The inner bark of the elder is a strong purge; and it has been known to cure dropsies when taken in time, and often repeated. The flowers are made into an ointment, by boiling them in lard, till they are almost crisp, and then pouring it off, this is cooling; the juice of the berries is boiled down with a little sugar, or by some wholly without, and this, when it comes to the consistence of honey, is the famous rob of elder, good in colds and sore throats. A wine is made of the elder-berries, which has the flavour of Frontignac.

The Family Herbal, 1812, was written by John Hill.

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