Thursday, January 24, 2013
Despite almost two weeks of freezing temperatures and constant snow, we found these fresh new leaves sprouting from elder Sambucus nigra twigs in Durham city yesterday. Unlike most trees and shrubs, common elder doesn't form closed winter buds gripped by tough bud scales. Instead it forms open leafy buds, that can sprout into new growth at the first available opportunity.
Nearby we found Sambucus racemosa, a relative of our native elder that has been introduced from mainland Europe into North East England and is more commonly found in Scotland. You can see a photo of the plant in flower by clicking here. Unlike our native elder, which produces deep purple, almost black fruit, this species carries bunches of larger scarlet fruits. It also differs from the native species in producing these rather attractive winter buds, whose bud scales are already beginning to loosen.