Elderberry, or American elder (Sambucus canadensis), is a small tree, rarely getting larger than 12 feet tall. It is native to North America. Its sibling, the European elderberry (Sambucus nigra) can grow up to 30 feet, and is found in Europe, Asia and North Africa.

The tree has been used in traditional folk medicine for centuries, and the fruits have been used to make wine and jams.

The berries are rich in vitamin C, and have been used, cooked or in wine form, as a remedy for sore throat, influenza and colds, and are also said to relieve asthma and bronchitis. The seeds, however, are toxic, and can induce vomiting and nausea if eaten.

The flowers of the elderberry can also be eaten and made into tea, wine or syrup.

Elderberry flowers can be eaten straight off the branches (check for bugs though!) or you can make fritters out of them. To do this, pick complete flower heads and wash and drain these. Dip the flowers into batter (pancake batter will do nicely) and bake them flower side down in a little oil in a frying pan until they are crisp. Eat them with powdered sugar.

Elderflower syrup is made by boiling the flowers (without stems) with water and sugar, then straining the mixture. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find a more exact recipe, but it's available at IKEA's Swedish shop, at least in the Netherlands... Elderflower syrup with water makes a refreshing drink that's rather subtle and flowery in taste.

El"der*ber`ry (?), n. (Bot.)

The berrylike drupe of the elder. That of the Old World elder (Sambucus nigra) and that of the American sweet elder (S. Canadensis) are sweetish acid, and are eaten as a berry or made into wine.

 

© Webster 1913

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