Elder trees are native to Europe, North America, and Southwest Asia and grow as a small deciduous tree or shrub up to 30 feet tall. The leaves often have serrated edges. The flowers are white or cream-colored and grow in flat umbrella-shaped clusters. The flowers ripen into large clumps of dark-colored berries (ranging from blue to black). Many parts of the Elderberry tree can be used medicinally. The leaves are used in poultices or even fresh to stop cuts from bleeding, treat burns on the skin and heal bruises. The berries and flowers were historically used internally in teas to treat colds and flu.
History and Folklore:
Archeological excavations show large numbers of Elderberry seeds at prehistoric sites. The wood may have been used for tools as long as 16 to 17 thousand years ago. In Ireland, Elderberry was once considered a sacred tree.
Cultivation and Harvest:
Harvest the leaves, flowers, and berries for medicinal use. Harvest the berries when they are ripe, meaning that they have a deep blue, purple, or black color. If you wait until after the first frost, the berries will be sweeter. Harvest some leaves during the summer and the flowers when they are in full bloom. All the parts can be used fresh or dried although some recommend that the berries be cooked before consuming since they can cause diarrhea.
Do not use while pregnant or nursing. Red Elderberries are toxic. Do not use the leaf in children.
Traditional Herbal Actions:
Antiviral, Anti-Inflammatory, Diaphoretic, Diuretic
Elder, Black Elder, European Elder, European Elderberry, European Black Elderberry
Tincture Ingredients: Elderberry (Sambucus nigra)
*These statements have not been verified by the FDA and are only referenced here as a fun fact and/or for historical commentary, not to be used as medical advice in any way. Consult your doctor before ingesting any herbal product.
None of these items or statements are approved by FDA. Consult your physician before taking any supplement. Do not take herbs or tinctures during pregnancy without consulting your healthcare provider. This product is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease. All information here is for entertainment and educational purposes only.