Definition of danewort in English:



  • A dwarf Eurasian elder with a strong, unpleasant smell and berries yielding a blue dye.

    Sambucus ebulus, family Caprifoliaceae

    • ‘Its old names, Danewort and Walewort (wal-slaughter) are supposed to be traceable to an old belief that it sprang from the blood of slain Danes - it grows near Slaughterford in Wilts, that being the site of a great Danish battle.’
    • ‘Following their re-emergence in early spring, the mature peacock butterflies feed on flowering sallows, dandelions, wild marjoram, danewort and clover fields.’
    • ‘The dwarf elder or Danewort (supposed to have been introduced into Britain by the Danes), S. Ebulus, a common European species, reaches a height of about 6 ft.’
    • ‘What will remain uppermost in the mind are surely the banks of dwarf elder Sambucus ebulus, also known as danewort, with their hordes of nectaring Hairstreaks.’
    • ‘The name danewort originates from a belief that it is found only on sites where battles took place between the English and the Danes, as the plant grew from the blood of Danish soldiers.’


Early 16th century: so named from the folklore that the plant sprang up where Danish blood was spilt in battle.