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July through October is elderberry harvesting time, depending of course on your zone. Called a bush, that’s actually a tree and yet in the honeysuckle family, elderberries can grow in most areas of the US and Canada.
Start looking for them along roadsides and hugging wooded perimeters, especially in areas of damp soil, where they can be found growing abundantly in the wild, and you might find you have a ready supply already available.
Ideal Growing Sites for Elderberries
But not to worry. If you don’t have access to wild elderberries in your area, you can likely still grow them. Elderberries grow best in USDA growing zones 3-8. Elderberries grow into large shrubs, but can also be planted and trained as an edible hedge or edible fence. They have fragrant edible flowers and edible berries that are considered amongst the “super foods” because they are nutrient dense with high antioxidant benefit.
Elderberry as Food and Medicine
Elderberries and elderflowers are often found in natural remedies for cold and flu, but they have many other health benefits, as well. You can consume the fragrant flowers and ripened berries of the Sambucus Nigra, raw or cooked, but not the green ones. All other elderberry fruits are edible cooked only.
Never consume the leaves, roots, twigs, and stems of elderberry as they are NOT edible. Indigenous to North America, (and other parts of the world as well), Native American Indians used the berries and flowers as food and medicine and the stems and branches for tools, pipes, and weapons, such as arrows.
When it comes to foraging elderberry, you’ll need to be aware of the look-alike plants that are NOT safe to eat. Lookalike plants to avoid are pokeberry and especially water hemlock, so study the differences before you head out, and better yet, take identifiers with you to be sure, such as An Edible Field Guide to North American Plants.
As always, consult a doctor and read my disclaimer. To learn more about the many health benefits, disease preventions and nutritional value of elderberries and elderflowers, plus an elderberry wine recipe, read the full article below: