Elder Beads

Make your own beads from materials foraged on your daily walk


ElderflowersLearn to identify elder, do some foraging and create your very own elder beads!

This activity involves using sharp secateurs so will need adult supervision.

Identifying Elder

Elder is a common shrub or small tree.   It has feather shaped leaves which come 5 or 7 leaflets making up each compound leaf. The edge of each leaf is serrated and there may be small hairs on the underside. In June it has clusters of creamy white flowers – you may recognise the scent if you’ve ever drunk elderflower cordial.

If you need more help identifying elder, then go to https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/trees-woods-and-wildlife/british-trees/a-z-of-british-trees/elder/ 

Foraging for Elder

Use your secateurs to cut a piece of Elder.   You will want it to be about 1cm thick. That is maybe as thick as your thumb if you’re a child, or as thick as your little finger if you are an adult.

Only take a piece from an elder large enough to survive being pruned.  You will need about 2cm of elder for each bead, only take as much as you need.

Elder Beads

Firstly, use secateurs to cut your branch into short pieces – about 2cm long would work well.

Next, use a tent peg or wire to push out the mushy soft centre of the branch pieces.

You can leave the bark on or strip it off with a vegetable peeling, depending on how you’d like it to look.

Finally, thread your elder beads onto a string to make a necklace or to decorate another craft.

Take it Further

If you enjoyed this bushcraft activity, why not try making Bushcraft Pencils – they also need elder.  You could continue to develop your foraging skills and make your own elderflower cordial.


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