ElderberryPosted 9 years ago under Uncategorized
Lauded for its medicinal uses for centuries, the elderberry is a potent source of nutrition. (1) Though generally not eaten straight off the bush, the elderberry is typically made into juice and syrups. (2) These are then used in a variety of culinary and medicinal recipes. Elderberry extract is known to have antiviral properties and is frequently taken to fight the effects of the common cold or flu. It is believed that the elderberry works by supporting the body’s immune system, provide antioxidants, and keep viruses from attacking healthy cells. (3)
The elderberry comes from the Sambucus nigra plant.
Kingdom (Plantae) → Angiosperms → Eudicots → Asterids → Order (Dipsacales) → Family (Adoxaceae) → Genus (Sambucus) → Species (Sambucus nigra)
Elderberries grow on large perennial shrubs that can reach heights of up to twenty feet though it usually ranges from four to twelve feet tall. The bark of the tree changes from light grey to darker grey as it matures. The leaves are generally four to twelve inches in length with a serrated edge. Elderberry shrubs are poisonous except for the self-pollinating white flowers and the berries when they are ripe. The small berries (up to a quarter inch in diameter) grow in clusters and become dark purple as they ripen. (4)
The elderberry is native to North America and is found in abundance in the eastern United States and Canada. They are part of the honeysuckle family of plants. Closely related species are also found throughout northern Europe. The elderberry shrubs thrive in well-drained, moist soil that is slightly acidic. They mostly grow in sunny areas, but can tolerate the shade of forest habitats. (5)
Elderberries are a rich source of nutrients including vitamins and minerals. They are high in vitamins C, A, and B6. They also are a good source of potassium, calcium, phosphorous, and iron. One cup of elderberries provides 41% of your RDV of dietary fiber. (6) They also contain polyphenol anthocyanin, which is an antioxidant. (7)
Typically, elderberry shrubs take two to three years to produce fruit for consumption. Elderberries are harvested during late August and early September. Once the clusters of berries are pulled from the trees, they must be kept at cool temperatures if not used immediately.
Diseases, Pests, Predators
Elderberry shrubs are relatively easy to care for as they are not susceptible to many pests. The biggest problem they may face is mildew if the weather stays damp. Cane borers occasionally attack the plants but almost never in large numbers and are easily managed. Birds can be a problem so covering the bushes in netting can help protect a crop from being eaten.