Eastern Shore Food Lab

Sambucus canadensis - Elderberry

An Eastern Shore native, the elderberry provides our garden with shade and covering. 

Its white flowers make excellent tea and the clusters of dark-blue berries can be dried and cooked with. Our elderberry acts as a living fence and provides food for birds and insects!

Common name: American Elderberry
Scientific name: Sambucus canadensis
Plant family: Caprifoliaceae (honeysuckle family)

Primary Uses

Edible Parts: flowers and berries, dried flowers can be made into a tea
Medicinal Uses: Has soothing and diaphoretic properties. Ripe berries can be made into a syrup to help with sore throats; flowers are used as a cooling skin toner. The inner bark and root bark is said to be a diuretic and can promote childbirth.
Meaning of Scientific Name:Sambucus” comes from the latin word for a triangular harp that creates a shrill sound.

Designing with this Plant

USDA Hardiness Zones: 3-9
Forest Garden Layer: sub-canopy layer for small gardens or the shrub layer
Toxicity: Elder leaves and unripe berries are toxic

Fun Fact: In northern Europe, it was tradition to first ask the “Hylde-Moer,” or the elder mother who lives in the tree, permission before cutting elder branches.

Sources