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The Bare Root Season has now finished.
See our range of Ornamental Trees and Pot Grown Hedging available now.

Elder berries

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Elderberry
Sambucus nigra

A small deciduous tree or shrub, native to the UK and Europe. Grows to around 6 metres, with feather-like leaves, large sprays of creamy-white flowers in the spring, followed by small black berries.

Availability: Out of stock

From £0.54

Description
Common Elder (also known as Black Elder or just Elder) is found predominantly in countryside hedgerows, easily identified by its large sprays of fragrant creamy-white flowers in the spring followed by the sprays of black berries in the late summer.


Planting Position
Suitable for most locations and soil types. Can handle exposed and coastal sites and is fairly hardy. Best grown in fertile, moist but well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade. It will even thrive on extremely chalky soils.


Size
Growth Rate: Medium
Final Height: 6-8m
Final Spread: 3-5m


Foliage & Flowers
Leaves are feather-like in shape (pinnate), turning yellow in the autumn. Flowers are both male and female and are in large flat sprays, these are followed by black berries in late summer.


Plant Interest
Elder is very attractive to wildlife; the flowers provide nectar for bees and insects, and many moth caterpillars feed on the foliage, including the white spotted pug, swallowtail, dot moth and buff ermine. Various birds eat the berries, and small mammals such as dormice and bank voles will eat both the flowers and the berries.


Landscape Use
Elder works well as part of a mixed native hedge or as a specimen plant in a wildlife garden. It naturalises in woodland, scrub and wasteland.


Uses 
The timber is hard and often used for whittling and carving. The flowers are used for making wine, cordial and tea or they can be fried to make fritters. The berries can be used to make wine and preserves or can be baked in a pie with other fruits. The flowers and berries are mildly poisionous, so ensure they are cooked before eating.

Planting may be carried out at any time between early-November and mid-May.

Planting Willow and Poplar Setts / Cuttings

The cuttings are quick and easy to plant. They are provided with a slanted cut at the base and a straight cut at the top to make insertion into the ground easier and distinguish top from bottom. They can simply be pushed into loose cultivated soil and firmed in. They will need no support. In firmer soils simply make a vertical slit with a spade and push the cutting to the bottom of the slit and firm well by treading. Alternatively a narrow hole may be made with a bar or spike and the cutting pushed to the bottom and firmed well. A mole-plough or subsoil blade may be pulled through the ground in rows and the cuttings simply pushed into the loosened soil slit and firmed in by foot.

The smallest one foot long (30 cm) cuttings must be planted so that only 2 inches (5 cm) is showing above ground. This makes them vulnerable to being smothered by weeds and grass before they get away, and so they are only suited to situations where they will receive a high standard of care in the early days. The two foot long cuttings (60 cm) are planted so that half is in the soil as in the photo below. This means that the new growth starts above weed and grass height. Being larger they also contain greater reserves of energy and grow away faster. In most situations the 2 foot long (60 cm) cuttings are the best option and will produce a tree, if looked after, of 6 - 8ft high in the first growing season .

 

Planting Bare Root Whips and Hedging

Bare root plants can planted by notch or pit planting methods. For more information, please download this helpsheet.

Planting bare root whips and hedging help sheet

 

The decision on whether to plant rooted trees and/or which size of cuttings will depend on:

      - How easy a job you want planting to be

      - How well you will look after your trees 

      - Your soil type and site

      - How quickly you need results

 

All sizes of cutting root equally well.

The smallest one foot long (30 cm) cuttings must be planted so that only 2 inches (5 cm) is showing above ground. This makes them vulnerable to being smothered by weeds and grass before they get away, and so they are only suited to situations where they will receive a high standard of care in the early days. The two foot long cuttings (60 cm) are planted so that half is in the soil. This means that the new growth starts above weed and grass height. Being larger they also contain greater reserves of energy and grow away faster. 

In most situations the 2 foot long (60 cm) cuttings are the best option and will produce a tree, if looked after, of 6 - 8ft high in the first growing season.

On dry sites such as sands and gravels, or on banks, we would suggest that you plant a longer cutting and insert a larger proportion into the soil. Both the hybrid willows and poplars have the ability to make roots from any part of the stem and so, if planted deeply, will produce deep roots, which will always find moisture. 

The rooted trees and longer cuttings will cope better with difficult conditions and weed or grass competition to give instantly visible results.

Further information on rooted or unrooted plants can be found here.

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Delivery

Our bare root plants and cuttings are delivered between November and May (specific dates cannot be guaranteed) but we do encourage early planting for the best results.

Most orders are dispatched within 3-5 working days where stocks are available. If they are not available at the time of order you will be notified and an alternative delivery date discussed with you.We ship to mainland UK and the Isle of Wight (although surcharges may be incurred in some more remote areas). Our orders are generally sent out using a national courier but for local deliveries, we may use our own couriers. Orders can also be collected from the nursery by prior appointment and we are more than happy for you to do this if you prefer.

Our standard delivery charge is £15 plus VAT. This is for a next day delivery service in areas where this is available (i.e. mainland UK). For areas outside mainland UK, such as northern Ireland, Isle of Man, Channel Islands, Scottish islands and mainland Europe, we can often offer delivery but will need to confirm the costs of these with you, so please call us to discuss on 01404 811229.  

There's usually no need to wait in for a standard delivery, our couriers will leave it in a safe place for you. If there is somewhere in particular you would like it left, please let us know at the time of ordering. For taller plants or a larger volume (particularly root ball trees), a pallet may be required. We will let you know at the time of your order as this will usually incur an additional fee. 

On arrival you should try to plant as soon as possible but, if the weather makes this impossible, cuttings will remain viable somewhere cold for 4 weeks. A cold shed or outside is fine but if the weather turns warm then put them into a fridge if possible. If you are unable to plant the rooted trees within ten days of arrival then we suggest that you unpack the bale and cover the roots with soil in a shallow trench to keep them moist.

It is important to look after your trees as they mature so now click on After-Planting Care for some useful guide-lines.