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  • Writer's pictureWildlife Friendly Otley


We’re making “elderflower champagne” soon, and later in the year people will use the elderberries to make wine. Historically there have been many medicinal claims made for parts of this plant, but you need to be careful as they can be poisonous uncooked. Juice from the berries is a deep blue-purple, and it is used to colour both food and fabrics. The twigs are easy to hollow out – we used to make jewellery with the kids this way – but apparently in North America they are also used as spiles to tap maple trees for syrup. JK Rowling has said that the final book in the Harry Potter series was nearly called “Harry Potter and the Elder Wand”. The bushes are common around Otley, and because it grows quickly, and can easily be bent into shape, it is known as something of an “instant hedge.”


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