Sambucus canadensis , American black elderberry, black elder, blackberry elder, common elder, common elderberry, African elder flower, elderberry, sambucus, sweet elder.

Sambucus nigra, the name of the plant that produces Elder berries, is a large deciduous shrub that bears dark black berries. Sambucus nigra hails from Europe, and also originates from southwest Asia and northwest Africa. Our producer in Croatia keeps us well supplied with Elder berries. Other common names for Sambucus nigra include Black Elder, European Elder, Common Elder, Black-berried European Elder, boor tree and German Elder. The plant produces flowers in the summer, and the fruit comes on in the late fall months of the year. The small dark berries hang in clusters off the large shrub, and are attractive to birds who flock to the plants for late season food.

Humans eat the berries as well, and often serve them cooked in pies and jams, as well as in elderberry wine. The berries have also been used in times past as a dye or a flavoring

Flowering occurs from June to July. Berries ripen and are often collected from August until October for making jams, jellies, pies, or wine.

Although reports of poisonings are rare, green parts of American elder including roots, shoots, leaves, flowers, and berries are toxic and can poison animals and humans if consumed. Leaves, young shoots, and flower buds are sometimes eaten by cattle and sheep with fatal results. Children have been poisoned by chewing bark and eating raw berries. Because stems are pithy, they are made into pea-shooters, blowguns, and other toys that could be poisonous if used. Although raw berries are toxic, berries that have been dried or cooked are not harmful.

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