This month, we continue to showcase the various benefits of Portuguese wild species by focusing on the elderberry.
The elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is a bushy plant with new branches developing organically from its base, despite its large size, which may easily exceed five metres in height.
However, by removing them and trimming the higher branches, it is simple to establish a primary trunk that will give it a tree-like bearing over time.
The elderberry is a species that is common throughout the national territory, but more specifically in the Center-North of Portugal. It is also a species that is spread throughout Europe, with numerous qualities, particularly medicinal, that have led to it being referred to as the “medicine cabinet” by several peoples.
Everything in it, from the bark to the leaves, to the flowers and fruits, may be utilised.
It contains antioxidant characteristics and may be used to successfully treat flu and colds, to mention a few benefits.
In this regard, we recommend reading the essays published by Fernanda Botelho, who has committed herself for numerous years to promoting its medical virtues among us.
It is a species of riparian origin, that is, it is used to the banks of waterways, hence it has a distinct predilection for damp, deep, and shaded soils.
It adapts and survives in many environments, but if we want it to grow robustly and healthily, we shouldn’t stray too far from it.
In addition to the apparent decorative characteristics of its leaves, we stress the profusion of its blossoming, which consists of enormous “umbels” of fragrant flowers at the start of each spring and which, in addition to being edible, are used to make wonderful syrups.
Its berries, which mature in mid-July in our nation, are also renowned for being edible; they may be combined with other red fruits, for instance, in pies.
Similarly, its juice, which is relatively unknown in the United States, is highly regarded in countries such as Germany and Denmark and is the basis of a significant export industry in the Douro-Sul districts.
It should be emphasised, however, that caution must be taken while consuming the juice collected from the berries, since it cannot be consumed straight and must be cooked to remove toxins and diluted with water before consumption.
Diversity in the backyard
We note its ecological significance in the garden as a last point.
Its nectar attracts pollinating insects, particularly bees, and its berries are a vital food source for birds, especially blackbirds.
The germination of its seeds is uncomplicated, and its development, when sufficient water is available, is rapid and robust!
In the Portuguese online store for seeds, you may get elderberry seeds as well as seeds for other native plants with ornamental and landscaping potential.
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