Some used the berry to make wine. Added bonus: Did you know the flowers of the elderberry plant are also edible and considered useful medicinally? The ones used in the studies you’ve probably heard about are Sambucus nigra, which grows primarily in Europe. In my area, if they’re near a house, they tend to be those common white hydrangeas (not for eating!) Here’s a map showing where canadensis grows and another showing where cerulea may be found. Hank Shaw published an article at Hunter Angler Gardener Cook on elderberry fritters. Here’s what you need to know about elderberry identification before you set out on an elderberry foraging adventure. amzn_assoc_ad_mode = "manual"; amzn_assoc_marketplace = "amazon"; For varieties fruiting on first-year canes, some growers recommend cutting all canes to ground level annually or every other year, which will encourage the plant to produce fewer but larger berry clusters that will ripen more evenly. Red elderberry shrubs produce yellowish-white flowers in May. Here’s the info on pruning from my new book, Everything Elderberry: Though in the wild, elderberry shrubs go unpruned except by high winds and wildlife, in the home landscape you’ll want to keep your elderberries pruned for several reasons. amzn_assoc_linkid = "b0493c9571ce925b13fb2adc6f0b0f9c"; Giant hogweed, as its name implies, is HUGE, and really looks nothing like elderberry except for the fact it has white flowerheads. Canadensis berries will likely be less problematic than nigra berries, but it’s nigra you will find more commonly used in commercially-prepared syrups and powders. Want some super-simple ways to live healthier now? Growing 9 to 12 feet tall, some references say that the fruit from red elderberries are edible; other references say that they are not. You may have some of these 150 edible flowers growing near you as well. So please remember: Just because you see dark berries or pretty flower sprays does NOT mean you’ve found an elderberry. Ever heard of Elderberry Wine? Advertisement. Red elderberry bears bright red fruit. Red Elderberry does not do well in warm climates. Unripe elderberries are poisonous. Herbaceous rather than woody, dwarf elder’s less-flat berry clusters don’t droop the way the flatter heads of common elderberry do. Here’s more on giant hogweed and its identifying features. Both alkaloids will cause nausea so care should be observed with this plant. Elderberries do respond well to pruning, but different plants fruit on different year’s growth (typically first or third), and with wild plants you can’t be sure what you’ve got. Berries tend to ripen at summer’s end. You’ll find some additional ones to know below. Her work has appeared in Mother Earth Living, Ensia, Northern Gardener, Sierra, and on numerous websites. Sambucus racemosa is a species of elderberry known by the common names red elderberry and red-berried elder. HealthyGreenSavvy is committed to protecting your privacy. No pruning is necessary in the first two growing seasons. Sign up for my twice-monthly newsletter using the form below and get free e-books as a welcome to the HGS community. HealthyGreenSavvy is all about shortcuts to a healthier, greener life. Last, if the berries are right there in my permaculture garden, I can watch them closely and gather them before the birds do, or even cover them with netting to protect my harvest. Blueberries as a food crop have been improved by people for thousands of years. Not so the modest elderberry. Filed Under: Foraging Tagged With: foraging, superfoods. amzn_assoc_placement = "adunit0"; Chinese privet also has long sprays of white flowers. Susannah is a proud garden geek and energy nerd who loves healthy food and natural remedies. Edible berries and flower are used for medicine, dyes for basketry, arrow shafts, flute, whistles, clapper sticks, and folk medicine. The short answer is "yes" with precautions. Dwarf elder is also sometimes mistaken for common elder. Now, compounds in the elderberry plant can make you very sick indeed, and in large enough quantities they could be fatal. You’ll find a decent amount of confusion on the internet about whether elderberries are edible, especially raw elderberries. Sambucus nigra, or black elder, is the most commonly used plant for elderflower harvest. Here’s a photo: Elderberry bark is grey, with occasional lenticels, which are raised bumps that allow gases to pass through. I created this post to share my own discoveries about the Red Elderberry and foster some further discussion in the comments below about the edible and toxic parts of … They have smaller flower clusters, approximately 3 to 5 inches in size. Some references state that certain people are sensitive and should not eat them. If you’ve got a pliable green plant, you haven’t got an elderberry and may have stumbled upon one of its more toxic look-alikes. Squirrels, mice, raccoons, and bears also eat the fruit. Berry picking expeditions are great outings for the family and all will enjoy the fruits of their labor in one of its many tasty forms. If you have a nice haul of elderberries and aren’t sure what to do with them, let me suggest putting up a batch of this research-backed homemade elderberry syrup and drizzling it on these delicious elderberry overnight oats. Probably. But if you’re in the US it’s likely they’re canadensis, which I think mainly fruit on first-year canes. Elderberry shrubs will sucker and try to take over a larger area, so pruning will prevent them from crowding out other plants and help your shrubs maintain a tidier appearance. Additionally, pruning increases airflow, which can help to prevent disease. My first experience with elderberries came when my husband and I moved to the country to build our first home. See how they aim skyward? This one is a good one to learn about and to harvest each year. Not so! I get so many questions about how to use elderberries that I wrote a short downloadable guide to using elderberries safely and effectively. Elderberries are full of antioxidants and vitamins, they've been used in a variety of applications throughout history. As soon as the fruit ripens hundreds of elderberry form a single cluster. Today few people eat Red Elderberries on account of their slightly bitter-pungent flavor. As an Amazon Associate I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases. What can elderberries be used for? While most species of elderberries are edible when cooked, the other parts of the plant, including leaves, stems, and roots, are toxic to humans. Leaf or root are toxic and should not be eaten more information on the internet about elderberries! 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