Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis)

Elderberry berriesElderberry leavesElderberry is a many-stemmed shrub with opposite-pair, compound leaves. Each pinnate has 5-9 leaflets.  It grows to a height of 6 meters (20 feet). Its flowers are fragrant, white, and borne in large flat-topped clusters up to 30 centimeters (12 inches) across. Each flower has five petals.  Its berrylike fruits are dark blue/purple or black when ripe and are contained in drooping clusters.

Where to Find: This plant is found in open, usually wet areas at the margins of marshes, rivers, ditches, and lakes. It grows throughout much of eastern North America

Elderberry flowersEdible Parts: The flowers and ripe fruits are edible. You can make a drink by soaking the flower heads for 8 hours, discarding the flowers, and drinking the liquid.  Do not eat unripe fruit and it contains cyanogenic glycoside and alkaloids which are considered toxic.

Other Uses: The leaves and inner bark can be used as an insecticide.  The stems can be hollowed out and used for spouts or musical instruments.

Note: All other parts of the plant are poisonous and dangerous if eaten.

Elderberry opposite-pair leaves

Drooping clusters of dark purple Elderberry berries

Large cluster of Elderberry berries

Elderberry plant

Drawing of Elderberry plant showing berries, leaves, branches, and flowers

Drawing of Elderberry plant illustrating its components

Classic drawing of Elderberry plant

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