Sambucus nigra


Common Names: Black elderberry, elder, elderberry, black elder, European elder, European elderberry, European black elderberry
Category: Trees
Sub-category: Elders

It is a deciduous shrub or small tree growing to 6 m tall and wide. The bark, light grey when young, changes to a coarse grey outer bark with lengthwise furrowing. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs, 10 to 30 cm long, pinnate with five to seven (rarely nine) leaflets, the leaflets 5 to 12 cm long and 3 to 5 cm broad, with a serrated margin. The young stems are hollow. The hermaphrodite flowers have 5 stamens and are borne in large, flat corymbs 10 to 25 cm diameter in late spring to mid summer, the individual flowers ivory white, 5 to 6 mm diameter, with five petals. The fruit is a glossy dark purple to black berry 3 to 5 mm diameter, produced in drooping clusters in late autumn.

Edible Notes: The dark blue/purple berries can be eaten when fully ripe but are mildly poisonous in their unripe state. They should be cooked before being eaten, preferably to make jams, jellies, chutney, etc... All green parts of the plant are poisonous, containing cyanogenic glycosides. The flowers are used as a flavoring in liquors and sodas, as well as dipped in batter and fried and eaten. Both flowers and berries are used to make elderberry wine and brandy.
Warnings: Not known to be dangerous.
Sightings