The Elder Tree

I was a little late getting out to harvest elderflowers this year. In our arid Idaho climate, they are usually best in mid-June, so I was concerned there wouldn’t be much left on this hot 4th of July. But to my relief, the unseasonably cool weather we’ve had so far this summer kept many of the delicate, tiny white flowers fresh and lovely. 


English folklore reveres the elder tree as a sacred symbol of the Elder Mother. It was often planted outside doorways to ward off evil spirits and witches. And the delicate, lightly fragranced flowers were said to be home to mischievous fairies that would carry you away if you fell asleep beneath its branches. Easy to imagine when you come upon an elder tree that is newly crowned with clusters of frothy white flowers, as though the clouds came down to rest upon its branches.

The elder tree has been used medicinally for centuries. Dating back to the time of Hippocrates, humans have used the flowers, berries, bark and roots to treat various ailments. What we know now that people could only intuit then is that elderberries are packed with beneficial vitamins and minerals, and the flowers are rich in bioflavonoids and triterpenoids. These key components are antioxidant, analgesic and reduce inflammation, making elderflower hydrosol very soothing and beneficial to our skin. 

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For the last year, I have been working on a new face cream formula that features the elderflower. This season's fresh batch of hydrosol (pictured above) distilled from wild Idaho elderflowers will be the crowning ingredient in this lightly whipped, deeply moisturizing face cream. The formula is nearing completion, and I can’t wait to introduce it to you later this year.

As always, thank you for sharing my adventures in botanical alchemy! 

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