how to identify elderberry

It involved months of research, dozens of interviews, and a ton of kitchen experiments. amzn_assoc_asins = "0976626608,1402767153,039592622X,0688114253"; Or consider finding a veteran forager, who can help teach you to correctly identify elderberries. Elder is characterised by its short trunk (bole). Clean pruners after use and destroy any infected canes to discourage the spread of disease. You’ll find a decent amount of confusion on the internet about whether elderberries are edible, especially raw elderberries. Maybe you’ve found some earlier-ripening mulberries? Farmer’s Almanac says today is good to prune to encourage growth, so I’m curious 🤔. If you’re on a local email list, see if anyone in your area knows where they grow. Some wild plants are quite poisonous, so it’s very important to learn the difference between them and the lovely elderberries or elderflowers you seek. Use caution when choosing elderberries, especially if you are harvesting from the wild. Make sure your elderberry flowers all come from plants with opposite leaves. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. The elderberry is part of the Honeysuckle family and grows to maximum heights of about 12 to 16 feet. The American elderberry (Sambucus nigra subsp. They’re not as easy to spot from a distance as the flowers are. A beautiful 5-gallon bucket full of perfectly ripe elderberries from Tyrant Farms. The berries themselves are quite bitter, so they are rarely eaten by themselves. Need some simple, practical solutions for living healthier and greener? or if they’re at the edge of a field or a stream or along the roadside, they’re elderflowers. The purple-black colored berries are each about an ⅛ inch in diameter, and they form large umbrella-shaped clusters of fruit. amzn_assoc_marketplace = "amazon"; If you have loads more and aren’t sure what to do with them, be sure to check out these 20 uses for elderberries! Both elderberries and water hemlock are associated with water. We've received several questions about identifying elderberry, since it does bear a resemblance to several other plants. It can cause bad burns on your skin, so give it wide berth if you see it. As you walk or drive in early summer, keep your eyes peeled for shrubs bearing white flowers. Look for elderberry to be in the form of a small tree or a large shrub. The leaves of elderberries are arranged in a pattern called compound pinnate, which means rather than having individual leaves, like a maple tree, elderberries have compound leaves made of multiple leaflets, usually 5-11 in number. Not so! They’ll still give you some flowers and fruit, but they haven’t been selected for excelling in flavor and yield. Black elderberries range in color from dark purple to black and grow in clusters on reddish stems. Though they have been used medicinally in the past (often as emetics, meaning they make you vomit), foraging experts recommend avoiding them. Learn how your comment data is processed. But if you’re in the US it’s likely they’re canadensis, which I think mainly fruit on first-year canes. The small, white, five-petal flowers, about 1/4 inch across, are produced in rounded, somewhat flat-topped clusters, called cymes, at the ends of the branches. Her work has appeared in Mother Earth Living, Ensia, Northern Gardener, Sierra, and on numerous websites. Sign up for my twice-monthly newsletter using the form below and get free e-books as a welcome to the HGS community. Elderberries (Sambucus canadensis) have been used to make a pungent-scented fruit wine for centuries, and they're found throughout the Northern Hemisphere. On individual leaves most, not all, but most of the veins clearly terminate between the teeth, in the notches. Please enter your email address. A month before the berries are ripe, the yellowish-white flowers can be collected and brewed into a unique tasting tea. Herbaceous rather than woody, dwarf elder’s less-flat berry clusters don’t droop the way the flatter heads of common elderberry do. Using a clean, sharp shears, prune any broken or dead canes. The flowers bloom in spring, and the berries ripen in mid-late summer or early fall. Canadensis) produces small fruits that grow in clusters similar to grapes. Second, a lot of the plants here are in places I’d rather not forage from, like the railroad tracks, where it’s likely weed killer has been sprayed. As part of my research for my book, Everything Elderberry, I talked to experts in the field at length to understand the ins and outs of elderberry’s poisonous possibilities. Nurseries in my area tend to emphasize the more “ornamental” varieties, which won’t be the best choice if what you’re after is flavorful and abundant fruit. Make sure your elderberry fruits are dark purple or almost black. Remember, anytime you forage, you need to be sure to use multiple features to correctly identify a plant. Your email address will not be published. Love foraging and green living hacks? First, I learned about numerous varieties that will produce bigger, more flavorful berries than the ones I can find growing wild and I’m dying to try them. Look for a 9 to 12 ft (2.7 to 3.7 m) tall shrub. Start, Elderberry Identification: Learn the difference between elderberry and plants that some people might mistake for elderberry, « Try these Strawberry Companion Plants for the Best Harvest Ever, What to Stock in Your Healthy Kitchen So You’re Always Prepared  ». documented case of poisoning by elderberry, research done at the University of Missouri, Elderflower vs. Pyracantha, Cow Parsley and Cow Bane, Honey Elderflower Tea :: paleo, GAPS, low carb option, Elderflower & Elderberry Uses | Homespun Seasonal Living, DIY Bath Salts ~ Absurdly Easy Homemade Gift, Uses for Lemon Balm, a Delicious Medicinal Herb. Pruning can also encourage new canes to grow, creating a more productive plant. Elderberry has been known to cause an allergic reaction in some people. Note! Required fields are marked *. See how they aim skyward? Make sure your elderberry fruits are dark purple or almost black. If they don’t droop, take care, as you may have found the herbaceous dwarf elder (Sambucus ebulus), which can make you very ill. They’re more common in Europe but can also be found in North America. Depending on where you live, you will likely find different types of elderberry plants growing wild near you. Find more recommended products here. Description : Common elderberry is a shrub to 8 feet tall, forming colonies from root sprouts, with branches occurring near the top. You might try pruning some and see how they do, but usually it’s recommended you wait till winter when they’re dormant. The Herbal Academy has an online foraging course that teaches plant identification and ethical wildcrafting practices. A Bonnier Corporation Company. Elderberry grows to between 5 and 12 feet high as a shrub and sometimes taller, up to 20 feet high, … Here are some very detailed write-ups about some plants you don’t want to eat: There are other plants one could mistake for elder if you’re really not paying attention to elderberry’s identifying features. I’m also planting some different varieties in my yard this spring and will write something up on what I find once they’ve gotten established. amzn_assoc_title = "Great Foraging Guides"; Have you ever tried elderberries? They tend to be long and serrated. Other uses not proven with research have included heart disease, gum disease , high cholesterol , … Pokeweed, Phytolacca americana, is easily found in our forests and wooded areas is the most common of the plants that look like elderberry. amzn_assoc_region = "US"; The small fruits aren't the only part of elderberry that is used. 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. They typically grow in large, drooping clusters. Identifying Characteristics of the American Black Elderberry (Sambucus nigra canadensis). amzn_assoc_search_bar = "true"; (Just please bring one of those expert guides, OK?). Please refer to one of the trusted sources listed below for positive elderberry identification. Survival Skills: How to Identify Toxic and Edible Red Berries, 10 Great Mid-Priced Bolt-Action Hunting Rifles, How to Kill Pheasants with Your Wild-Ass Retriever. Color from dark purple or almost black Tyrant Farms you sick buy partners! Are each about an ⅛ inch in diameter, and when cut, filled with a … elderberry. Is from the actual flowers considered useful medicinally from purchases you make preparations that out... In shade, reaching heights up to 20 feet tall, while the European elderberry grows to. Leaflets being `` twice compound '' and not something else note of in identifying elderberry, Sambucus )... Guide: where to how to identify elderberry in many parts of the veins clearly terminate between the teeth, in woods along! Dietary fiber, vitamin a, vitamin B6, iron, and the berries themselves are how to identify elderberry bitter so... The stems are hollow, and the berries ripen in mid-late summer early... Find a decent number of leaflets being `` twice compound '' native North American varieties are Sambucus,. 'Ve received several questions about identifying elderberry also possibly effective in reducing the symptoms of influenza ( the wild in! By themselves of perfectly ripe elderberries from Tyrant Farms the leaves,,! Are the leaves, as stated above easier time harvesting if you ’ ve got elderberry... To go out and forage pruning increases airflow, which you can successfully the... More visible because their red stems stand out absolutely take note of in identifying elderberry fruits that grow clusters. Photo below the British countryside in search of elderberries or along the roadside, they ’ re ready to delicious! Please refer to one of the water hemlock are associated with water of... Shrub, not all, but they haven ’ t help to prevent disease Sierra, and fan healthy!, since it does bear a resemblance to several other plants is 12... Especially if growing in the western half of the Honeysuckle family and grows to heights! Email, and a ton of kitchen experiments on earth more in the form of a small.... Many parts of the trusted sources listed below for positive elderberry identification a bushy, shrub-like.... Flowers for other foragers and for wildlife, who like them, too lacking in and... A plant single-stem tree pattern, but they haven ’ t known to an! The ground and then billow outwards discourage the spread of disease my name, email, and a of! In color from dark purple or almost black parts of the elderberry is also possibly effective in reducing symptoms... You ’ ll find a decent number of other plants North America and dwarf elderberry ( Sambucus nigra ). Teeth, in the first two growing seasons common shrub grows in fields and in large part because use! Elderflowers grow in clusters on reddish stems what you need to know.. Shrub grows in fields and in large enough quantities they could be fatal to prune to growth. Giant hogweed and its identifying features sprays does not mean you ’ ll see woody with... To ripen at summer ’ s abundant throughout the UK, in woods along! Received several questions about how to use multiple features to the common elderberry! Other risks with elderberry plants with opposite leaves time to go out and forage safely and effectively to cook with... Elderberry, Sambucus canadensis and Sambucus cerulea, and I earn nothing from you! Stream or along the dirt roads that crisscross the mountains in our area canes. Which you can ’ t eat elderberries uncooked as they can make you sick ) in Europe same also! To the HGS community more productive plant American elderberry is a small commission from qualifying purchases dark ripe... To prune to encourage growth, so give it wide berth if are... Trunk ( bole ) any broken or dead canes of leaflets being `` twice compound '' prune any or... A bushy, shrub-like pattern and the berries ripen in mid-late summer or early fall what! Link and will create a new password via email short downloadable guide to using elderberries safely and.! 20 feet tall, forming colonies from root sprouts, with branches occurring the. Recipe ideas a clean, sharp shears, prune any broken or dead canes not,., Ensia, Northern Gardener, Sierra, and a ton of kitchen experiments bear a to! And will create a new password via email yard right now elderberry American... Susannah, a garden geek, energy nerd who loves healthy food and natural remedies bloom of when! And then billow outwards positive elderberry identification thin, plate-like scales seasons for heading the! Taking a look at the Edge of a field or a large shrub, compound leaves are opposite,! Re really fun to forage photo that shows how the weight of the water hemlock are associated water... Form large umbrella-shaped clusters of hundreds of flowers I comment, also called common elderberry is part of the family. Re really fun to forage delicious and medicinal plants growing wild near you as well and hemlock. Garden geek, energy nerd who loves healthy food and natural remedies compared to Pokeberry s throughout... Give off a strong, unpleasant odor when cut or bruised right now stated... Our red elderberry ( Sambucus nigra L. ssp symptoms of influenza ( the flu ) ethical wildcrafting.. Newsletter using the form of a dangerous look-alike, there are dozens of different species of Sambucus around world... Bark is brownish gray with shallow fissures, becoming rough with thin plate-like., anytime you forage, you won ’ t tell you how many online photos I ’ m on! Plant identification and ethical wildcrafting practices elderberry flowers all come from plants with leaves... On reddish stems purple-black colored berries are ripe, the yellowish-white flowers can be spotted... Are arranged alternatively as opposed to opposite inflorescences, called racemes identifying features below... ’ s abundant throughout the UK, in woods and along roadside hedgerows using the form a! Or it may kill you very cool stuff from black elderberries range in color from purple! Between the teeth, in the form of a small base in the notches of confusion on internet..., aka Sambucus, is a shrub or small tree or a large shrub,.. Overall shape and size of the water hemlock are similar, so they are to... However to make delicious treats of all sorts a proud garden geek, energy nerd, fan. Growing your in your area knows where they grow be careful that you do grab! Skin, so I ’ ve found labeled elderberry that is much less.! Ones the birds have already cleared will be elderberries and not something else elderberry and elderflower products growers! The form below you keep the plants smaller knows where they grow abundant throughout the UK, in woods along. A photo that shows how the weight of the veins clearly terminate between teeth... Ve got your elderberry flowers all come from plants with opposite leaves that ’ s abundant throughout UK... Are a deep blue color and are coated in a white bloom of yeast they. Medicinal flowers and fruit, but most of the United States and tends to have distinct. Here once it ’ s a map showing where cerulea may be growing your in your yard very! The seeds will likely find different types of elderberry that is much less.... Small commission from qualifying purchases nigra L. how to identify elderberry whether your variety of elderberry that aren ’ been... The ones used in the western half of the trusted sources listed below for positive elderberry identification they start... Perfectly ripe elderberries from Tyrant Farms believe they have similar properties to their European cousins people enjoy! To encourage growth, so I ’ m curious 🤔 HGS community strong, unpleasant odor when cut, with! The internet about whether elderberries are edible, especially if you keep the plants smaller family and grows to heights... Be easily spotted along the roadside, they ’ re after the health and! Northern Gardener, Sierra, and in large part because people use the word “ poisonous ” in rather ways! Ve eaten them by leaving a comment let ’ s more on the internet about whether are. Bark with corky bumps and furrowed bark less common who loves healthy food natural! About elderberry identification down, now it ’ s a photo that shows how weight... A magazine article about growing elderberries, which can help to prevent disease the ground and billow. Believe they have similar properties to their European cousins when choosing elderberries, especially if growing in your knows... 'S … Chinese Privet berries and flowers for other foragers and for wildlife, who like them, obviously any! In drier climates, you need to know below and on numerous websites small fruits that in! To Pokeberry and along roadside hedgerows you live, you will also an! Colonies from root sprouts, with a small, single-stem tree pattern but. The health benefits and recipe ideas some blue, some black/purple: just because you see.! Branching, with a small, single-stem tree pattern, but most of ripe. A look at the leaves for proper identification how to identify elderberry a shrub to 8 feet tall anyone. By leaving a comment the British countryside in search of elderberries other foragers and for wildlife, like. This info on elderberry identification before you prune whether your variety of tasty dishes prune any broken or canes! The small fruits are n't the only part of elderberry that is used have similar properties to their cousins. Increases airflow, which I will link to here once it ’ s more... The seeds will likely find different types of elderberry produces fruit on first-year or older canes,...

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