Northern Pacific Elder

About five years ago I noticed a small shrub growing in the back yard, when I lived on the rivers' edge in Carleton Place. At first I thought I had found a beginner walnut tree, since there are many black walnut trees in our area. After some research into a number of plant books, I found that the shrub that my birdies had brought was, in fact, a Northern Pacific Elder, a relative of L. Caprofoliaceae, also called Sambucus Nigra.

I had heard of the fabulous qualities of the Elder, from reading the Alive magazines one finds for free in the Health Food Store, and had seen the seventeen dollar packages of Elder wash- a comprehensive set of nutritious juices for purifying dietarily.

The Health Food product is of high quality and is apparently very effective in rinsing toxins from the system, also in assisting with weight reduction.

Part of my interest in raising and experimenting with herbs is that I could never really afford these wonderful luxuries for myself, so I have often made my own, indulging in quite successful experimentation and in several satisfying hobbies deriving from raising and cropping herbs and flowers.

My little Elder shrub would stay. If the birds bring anything, it is obviously good for the land, flora and fauna of the area, and therefore valid. Of course, my garden is never the haute de jardiniere that some Home and Garden lovers aspire to.
No, it looks more like forest floor or meadow scramble!

In just one year my Elder more than doubled. Its sexy branches are dark and quite smooth, though softly rough to the touch. The leaves look a little more dark green and a bit more lanceolate than Black Walnut leaves, and the leaflets are closer together, opposing each other on the stem.

When the flowers arrive in the Spring, they are generous in their profusion, and hang in four to five inch cone-shaped clusters about three quarters of an inch wide at the base, narrowing to a cone of elder- scented flowers.

A Characteristic Odor

The Elder has a characteristic odor, it seems, since Northern Pacifics' relative, Sambucus smells exactly the same- musky and a little medicinal, though a pleasant and clean scent.

A Modern Herbal mentions the odor as comrised of a semi -solid volatile oil, present in a fine amount of 0.32 per cent of the plants' properties.

The flowers are distilled in water saturated with salt and shaken with ether. The oil is then extracted as yellowish and buttery, an essential oil comprising terpines.

The Official Elder

Elder Flower Water ( Aqua Sambuci) is called an official preparation of The British Pharmacopoeia, made of 100 parts Elder flower to 500 parts water, or 10 pounds to the gallon.

No wonder it is expensive.

One is loathe to pick an elder flower or berry from the wild, because each floral scent, ripe or unripe berry means something to the wildlife.

A terpenoid is organic substance derived from mevalonic acid. I checked the dictionary to see what properties mevalonic acid has, but could only find MeV, or micro- electric voltage.

There are some acids that are conductors, so this might be a micro-propellant, in very soft, gentle qualities. I have lots of plant books, but they are interest books for the public, so don't quote me on the micro-conductor theory.

What I do know is that in daring to take the fresh, exquisite clusters of creamy flowers from my Northern Pacific Elder that I had obtained a really Canadian brand Elder, which seemed to have similar qualities in taste and scent. Trusting that Elder would be the same benign product, I boiled my flowers into a syrup around the same time I made some fabulous Dandelion syrup with lime juice. I soon found that Elder needs a tender boil, since after fifteen minutes I at first made a wondrous clear red candy. I really should have left it in candy form, but candy in jars would never come out!!

I realized that the mucilage in the Elder was terribly powerful at that point. I added water and expanded my amount of syrup.
My five jars from the cup of flowers that I had picked were tremendously satisfying.
Not only had the scent registered as a beautiful taste reminiscent of the musky flower or berry, but I lost all kinds of physical debris, very noticeably crayfish residing in esponged collagen after enjoying it on pancakes.


Ever heard of having something stuck in your craw, crawdads, or having a 'frog in the throat'? Before I moved out to the country I never would have imagined the consequences of tipping a wet rock near the waters' edge with the casual foot, or of sitting under tweetling birds in the restful canopies above.

Sad but true, we get small crayfish from either natural disruption or from birds dropping little irritants as they scratch. Crayfish feel like something pinching and throttling , or like something jittering around the inside of the torso, when they are active.
They are a solid nuisance. They drag in pieces of weed or lost animal fur, grab hairs and make themselves a sheath of brown, almost transparent wrap. I hear this is called 'du' or 'du phlen'.


In large quantities this tacky stuff is absolutely suffocating as it arises in tree-long lengths from under the river rocks, and when snails camp in it, it makes a huge, textured dark fin in the river like a shark fin on top of a peachy and grey mass, reminiscent of a fish belly. It hasn't other fish characteristics.

Though 'du' is supposed to be an unmentionable, "doo-doo" it is, of course useful in that it provides filler and rock - pin sheathes which collect metal tisanes and cement the earth together.

"Du Tin"

A small, almost manageable example of this phenomenon is the du tin, sometimes called pop tins or clinkers in the country. These are natural cans, sort of divot-shaped hollow, light metal shells that open up like a clam and extrude a small strand of brown, transparent matter with fins on each side of it, like a snakes tongue.

I actually have a photo of a little rascal operating a du tin. I found a clinker in my garden and took a photo of it. In fact, its collagen reached out and time-clicked my camera for me. The result was the surprise of seeing the tin opened by 3/8 of an inch with the collagen device poking out.

I have seen madly grinning crows chase one of these things from their tree- the tins grow into trees and emerge, gas-laden, to become crows toy rockettes!!

Playing with these is a no-no. Some people say burn them, but they are inhabited by voles, grasshoppers or newts, to name a few- so how cruel.Throw them away- they are highly noxious material.

I once heard a concerto which defined these as a tool of aquatic creatures- it is "d'Arrisandre de Seville/Cerces" flute and organ by Telemann. Forgive me if I am wrong, I jotted this down from CBC in French, which is not as good as my English.
Only a music buff can fully appreciate it that way.

Elder renews and cleans collagen

Anyway- that was a long story - and to suffice, Elder berries, wine, leaves or syrup will poof out the sticky collagen a crayfish or snail sets up by reversing its ' tendency to esponge and become rubbery saran. The du makes a fin that stabs the throat when a small creature is around and is a HUGE nuisance.

In half a day, Elder will cleanse the body and rid your system of attendant difficulties (schistomatosis-or snail infestation which causes hearing problems or arthritis/tendonitis and also glaucoma or myelitis of the eye, from frogs.) A frog infestation or its spawn can also cause polio.

Though I don't believe I have found a cure, I have certainly found a tonic extraordinaire. Any Elder product is worth a shot.



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