Elderberries

(Sambucus Canadensis). Deciduous. Zones 4-8.

Elderberry, commonly called American Black Elder, is a beautiful and useful plant - a wonderful addition to any garden! If you like to grow medicinal plants, Elderberry is a must-have shrub.

In June, Elderberry’s tiny lemon-scented white flowers appear in clusters, and in late summer flowers give way to clusters of deep purple-black elderberry fruits on violet stems. Its showy, flat-topped flower clusters attract birds and butterflies. If you plan to harvest the fruits, be sure to protect them from hungry birds, deer, and other wildlife!

The health benefits of Elderberry are endless! It can aid digestion, lower cholesterol, protect cardiovascular health, support the respiratory system, soothe inflammation, regulate insulin levels, strengthen bones, and make your skin glow. Elderberry is traditionally made into syrup and taken medicinally to support the immune system, especially through the winter months.

Fruits and flowers are also used to make jams, jellies, elderberry wine, and elderflower cordial.

Remember, it is important to cook elderberries before consuming them! Heat will neutralize the highly astringent components that can cause nausea and could lead to cyanide poisoning. It is also very important to pick fully ripe berries, as under ripe elderberries contain more of the toxic compounds.

Elderberry tolerates a wide range of soils, but prefers moist humus. It will grow in medium to wet, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Once established, it grows quickly and can reach up to 12 feet. It makes a wonderful living, edible hedge or shrub level companion in a permaculture landscape.