(Sambucus nigra)

Other Names:
American Elder, American Black Elderberry, Black Elder, Elder


Adoxaceae – Moschatel family

Growth Type:
Deciduous perennial shrub or small tree

Can grow up to 20' tall or more, although most specimens I have seen average about 8-10' tall

The leaves are pinnate and typically contain 5–9 leaflets. Each leaf is 2 - 12 in long, and the leaflets have serrated margins.

Multiple stemmed shrub

Spreading root system

Flower Season:
Late spring

Flower Appearance:
Large clusters of small white or cream-colored flowers

Large clusters of small, glossy, dark purple to black berries, approximately 1/8" in diameter

Miscellaneous characteristics:

Sunny locations in fertile soils of fields, and alongside streams, rivers, ponds, and lakes

Parts Used:
Flowers, Ripe Berries

Wild Food Uses:
Flowers can be soaked in water and fermented to make an effervescent "soda-like" drink. The unripe berries are mildly toxic, but lose this toxicity as they ripen. The ripe berries can be eaten raw, but may cause gastric upset. Cooked berries are used in jams, pies, compotes. The ripe berries have been harvested to make a delicate and delicious wine.

The following text is meant for informational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness or injury. Always consult with a physician or other qualified medical care provider concerning the diagnosis and treatment of any illness or injury.

Medicinal Uses:
Elderberry has been used medicinally for hundreds of years. It was used to treat injuries and rheumatism. Recent scientific studies have demonstrated elderberry to be effective at alleviating allergies, increasing respiratory health, and treating influenza. I have found a syrup made from elderberries, licorice root, mullein, and cherry juice, taken when symptoms first appear, to be highly effective at heading off a cold or flu.

Medicinal Actions:
Alterative, Anticatarrhal, Antipyretic, Aperient, Cathartic, Cholagogue, Diaphoretic, Emetic

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