Sunday, February 2, 2014
American Elderberry, Sambucus canadensis
In addition to the many trees/shrubs/vines I have ordered for Spring, I have found some incredible seeds. Considering that young plants cost anywhere from $6 to $40 each, I am super excited to have a lot of seeds to work with.
American Elderberry, Sambucus canadensis - Elderberry is a hardy (to zone 3!) fruit producing shrub that is packed with more vitamin C than an orange. Elderberries are also full of antioxidants, vitamins A and B, tannins, flavonoids including quercetin and anthocyanins, rutin, viburnic acid, carotenoids, and amino acids. Elderberry syrup is superb for boosting the immune system, and fending off colds, flu, bacterial and viral infections, tonsillitis, and coughs. As nature intended, elderberry juice was used to treat a flu epidemic in Panama during 1995. Elderberry is also good for the eyes, the heart, and lowers cholesterol levels. Different parts of the plant and preparations become mildly laxative, diuretic, and/or diaphoretic (makes you sweat).
In addition to medicinal value, it also can be used for dye (berries, leaves & inner bark), pies, tea, jelly and wine. Wikipedia suggests hollowing the stems for use as toys, spouts (maple syrup taps have been suggested) or musical instruments. Wild birds are fond of the little purple to black colored berries. The tiny, white flower clusters are reminiscent of Valerian, butterflies love them. Native here in Maine, it is especially suited to growing in our food forest. Although in my research I have yet to find issues with poultry eating the berries, they are listed as toxic to them in many places. Since I have seen plenty of wild elderberry growing near water, which ducks tend to frequent (lol), I am going to trust their discretion on eating any fresh berries that fall. Animals usually avoid toxic species. My spoiled ducks may be too picky to even try them! All parts of the part are supposed to be toxic to humans, except the COOKED berries. Some people do not seem to be bothered by elderberry, and even suggest consuming the flowers. Grows in full sun to part shade (great for guilds!), and not too particular about moisture level of the soil, although moist areas will make them happy.
Blackish purple berries
Pretty white flowers