If the Devil Catches a Cold

Elder Flowers
Elder Flowers

I think I must have mentioned this before, but one of the things that continues to provoke me is that, whenever we discuss plants poisonous to people, people take great delight in eating them. Here today we have another example, the elder. The flowers, leaves, bark, roots are all poisonous at all times of the year. The berries, when fully ripe, are reasonably safe. The only concession to humanity that the plant makes, is that the flowers and berries can be eaten, with minimal chance of ill effect, if they have been cooked.

The Woodland Trust mentions that it is thought the word elder derives from the Anglo-Saxon word for fire – because the stems could be hollowed out easily and used to blow through, for furnaces and things. My friend Google also pointed out, at one time it was thought that planting elder by your house would keep The Devil away, but anyone who burned elder could expect a prompt visit from him. And then, there have been some real scientific tests done that show elderberry extract really does help to relieve flu symptoms.

Do you think there’s a connection here? He is used to a warmer environment, you know. He probably doesn’t have a nice warm coat to wear while he’s around these parts.

15 thoughts on “If the Devil Catches a Cold

  1. David, are you saying that your posts are making people go out and eat poisonous plants? Because I assure you I haven’t been indulging in rhododendron honey. (I know how much the yeti likes it.) Personally, I wouldn’t eat any kind of plant or berry I found in the wild, because I’m ignorant about these things. I think I might have had a cough drop with zinc and elderberry in it, though. Always learning something new from you!


    1. Not sure about Harry Potter – I did try to read it several times but I couldn’t get past the first few chapters – funny how some books do that to you isn’t it?


      1. You don’t find out about the elder wand until the 7th book. The first few chapters are my least favorite parts — the parts when Harry is at the Dursleys. Some people really have miserable existences like that, sad to say. Hard to read about it, though.


      2. If you do decide to give it another go, at least make it to Hogwarts before you give up again. Things look up for Harry a bit at Hogwarts. πŸ™‚ JRR Tolkein was like that for me. I had to persevere to find the treasure hidden there. But the story was worth the effort. My son and I are reading the 7th book, and we are near the end! So exciting!


      3. I’ll give it another go – I’ve got the first couple of books in a packing box (from last time we moved house) somewhere – I’ll dig them out.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.