Friday, 6 January 2012

Using Elder Bark To Make A Salve For Bruises

For the first year of my herb apprenticeship I never had a blog, I kept everything in diary format in a folder on my computer. I have tried to e-mail some pictures to my fellow apprentices today but not everyone can open them so I've decided to post my first thoughts on elder and my first practical task. I had to map the elder and hawthorn trees within a mile radius of my house, take bark rubbings and make a salve from the elder bark for bruises.

 At first I was anxious about identifying trees without any foliage, flowers or berries but soon worked it out and now I can spot a hawthorn or elder a mile away!

 As elder is my herbal aly this year it was good to visit this work again.

My thoughts on Elder Dec 09

 Memories of the elder go back to my childhood, it was a tree I could recognise but I don’t remember being taught. Elder was found around the school playing field where we played in summer and in the woods at the back of our house.

 I have heard the tree has links to the fairy realm which makes it even more interesting and exciting.

 This Autumn Sarah showed us the wood and explained how it was pithy inside, lending itself for use in flutes or beads, more uses than flowers and berries then.

 Although I feel familiar with this tree, that it has been around me for most of my life, I don’t “know” it. I want to learn how to use it medicinally and to carefully enter its energetic realm.

31 December 2009

I have been up on the hills as part of my task to locate elder in my locality. I found several small trees; they are difficult to access as they are in a hedge of holly with brambles in front of them. I took a few twigs for my salve. The branches had small red buds on them.
Elder amongst holly

On the opposite side of the hill I found a larger tree that I could get to and harvested a few more twigs. I managed to get a bark rubbing of larger and smaller branches. The younger branches appear speckled; they branch off in pairs on each side of the stem. The pale elder branches contrasted with the dark holly around them.
Younger, straight elder branches

Circling the hills and approaching where I had started I found a large tree growing alone. This tree was easy to get to so I did another rubbing & took a few twigs, the shape of the tree was now apparent.
Elder tree

I took my twigs home and stripped off the bark. Most twigs were green under the bark; some were drier and had more tissue papery bark which peeled off. When stripping bark, especially the green bark, I could smell an elderberry aroma.  I then made a double infused oil with sunflower oil which is also said to be good for bruises. I have pale green oil which I shall use to make my bruise salve.
Branches gathered for bark
Bark was stripped off with a pen knife
I made a double infused oil
Completed oil and salve
I don't know if there is a right or wrong way to collect your bark but this worked for me. A few weeks after I made this a friend's husband fell down some metal steps and badly bruised his legs; I gave him some salve and he thought it was great and was very thankful. I made some more salve with essential oils added to give an analgesic effect as well.


  1. Wonderful post, information & photographs. Great help thank you. There are some gorgeous trees in Oman we must find the time to stop the car, get out & explore!!

  2. Thank you,I'm glad it helps. I'd love to hear about your adventures in Oman and see pictures of the trees.

  3. Excellent pictures and information, Charlie;) I was amazed how wonderful this oil smelled this weekend, when I made it! xxx

  4. I meant to say Jackie, not Charlie, my bad. Lord knows how I did that as I don't think we even have a Charlie in the group.. so sorry! xxx

  5. It does have a distinctive smell doesn't it! xxx