Two Beauties of the June Hedgerow

The flat-topped, creamy-white flower clusters or corymbs of the Elder (Sambucus nigra) or Trom in Irish form lofty, fragrant tiers as they dominate the hedgerows in June.  The anthers which hold the pollen are pale yellow and this is gathered by flies, hoverflies and bees.  These flowers are used to make wine, cordials and elderflower water which is used as a skin cleanser. (1a; 1b).  They turn into purple berries in the autumn.  These are used to make wine, jellies and chutneys.

Elder flower (1a)
Viburnum flowers in hedgerow (1b)

The elder is considered to be an unlucky tree.  Evidence from Irish folklore demonstrates that it was unlucky to bring the flowers indoors, make cradles from its wood or burn it.  The town of Trim in Meath is named after the elder.  In Irish it is called Baile Átha Troim which means the town of the ford of the elder.

Not so common on the June hedgerows is its relative, the Guelder rose (Viburnum opulus) or Wild pincushion or Caor chon in Irish.  The creamy white, flat topped flowers in the centre of the cluster look somewhat like the elder flowers but the outside flowers are completely different.  These are four times bigger than the flowers in the centre and are completely sterile.  That means they have no stamens or ovaries.  Their function is to attract pollinators to the centre of the flower.  The pollinated flowers become poisonous bright red berries in the autumn. (2a;2b;2c)

Viburnum flower (2a)
Elder flowers in hedgerow (2b)
Viburnum berries (2c)