Elder, or Sambucus, L. a genus of plants consisting of 6 species, two of which are indigenous.
1. The Ebulus, Dwarf Elder, or Dane-wort, which is perennial, grows in hedges and on road sides, and flowers in the month of July. The green leaves of this plant are said to expel mice from granaries: neither hogs, cows, goats, sheep, nor horses will eat them. - Its be ries impart a violet colour, and their juice mixed with vinegar dyes raw linen, as well as morocco leather, of an azure blue. - In its medicinal effects it is more violent than the following species, and therefore requires greater caution.
2. The nigra, or Common Elder, which thrives in woods, and damp hedges. In May or June it produces white flowers, which are Succeeded by Mack berrids. - This plant is extensively useful: its wood being hard and tough, is made into meat-skewers, tops for angling rods, and needles for weaving nets ; it is also employed by turners, as it works extremely well on the lathe. - The leaves are eaten by sheep, to which it is of great service, when diseased with the rot ; for, if placed in a situation where they can easily reach tie bark and young shoots, they will speedily cure themselves. According to LinnAeus, the plant is refused by horses, cows, and goats, though others assert, that cows eat it eagerly.
Every part of this, as well as of the preceding species, has a narcotic smell, which ought to caution persons against sleep:ng beneath its shade. - The inner green bark is an ingredient in the black dye; it is likewise purgative, and maybe used with advantage where strong laxatives become requisite. In small doses it is diuretic, and has been successfully used in glandular obstructions, and in dropsies. The leaves are possessed of cathartic properties similar to those of the bark, but are more nauseous. They form an ingredient in several cool-Jug ointments : and if turnips, cab's, fruit-trees, or corn, be whipped with them, and also with the green boughs, they will be e fectually secured against the depredations of turnip-flies, caterpillars, and other, noxious insects, with which those vegetables are infested. - The flowers are sometimes infused to impart a flavour to vinegar ; but should on no account be given to turkies, as they will prove fatal to those birds. - The berries are likewise poisonous to poultry; but their juice, when boiled down to an extract, and sweetened with sugar (this compo-sition being termed rob), is a gentle aperient, and promotes perspiration. The juice is likewise converted into a pleasant liquor called elder-wine, and is alsoempoyed to communicate a red colour to raisin or sweet wines. - DAMBOURNEY observes, that linen may be dyed of a brown colour with the juice of these berries ; and that wool, previously managed with bismuth, acquires a beautiful blueish grey, which is very permanent. - In Germany, a very pure and strong spirit is d stilled from this fruit, especially after it has been sweetened by night-frosts.
On the trunk of the common elder frequently appears a fungous excrescence, Awrinkled, and turned up like an ear, whitish on the outside, black within, and intersected with several small veins - These are commonly called Jew's ears, and are reputed to be serviceable for inflammations and swellings of the tonsils; for sore throats, and quinsies.