Our beautiful elderberry in the herb garden. Sambucus canadensis or American Elderberry is a shrub that can grow to 12 feet, flowering in the summer and producing an abundance of fruits in early fall.
The shrub prefers sun to partial share, and moist soil; but are generally easy to maintain and will tolerate a wide variety of conditions. The flowers will attract butterflies and the fruits will attract birds. This shrub can spread and become invasive in some areas, so watch for root suckers and remove on a regular basis.
The “drupes” (stone fruit) is commonly used in jams, jellies, and teas. You can make other recipes like elderflower champagne, elderberry juice pops, elderberry wine, or a elderberry pan sauce for meats and veggies. Harvest from August to September, when the fruit is soft and dark purple in color.
Elderberry is high in vitamin C and also contains anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals. It is touted as “nature’s most versatile herbs”- Hippocrates called the elderberry shrub his “medicine chest”. As an antioxidant it is used as a medicine for colds, coughs, flu, and generally boosting the immune system. Other uses include heart and blood vessel health, arthritis, and reducing inflammation for pain relief.