Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Valuable Elderberry

The Valuable Elderberry

by L. Jonas
(Printed in the Piedmont Virginia September 29, 1971)

The common elderberry , known as Sambucus canadensis to scientists, is widely used in landscaping , and to attract birds. the multitudinous small white flowers give the bush, especially a healthy well-formed one growing in full sunlight in moist soil, the effect of a vase of white flowers.

The fruit is unusually rich in vitamin C, and other healthful nutrients. It has been a highly-regarded herbal remedy among Romany gypsies, Indians, and other herbalists for centuries. The flowers can also be used as a medicine, and are frequently used as fritters (fried after being dipped in batter).

The leaves are reputed to be an effective insecticide, and the dried leaves have been used to keep certain insects away. Cows eat the leaves, whether for food or the medicinal value, perhaps only the cows know.

Pioneers collected crocks of sun-dried elderberries and mixed them them with apples or other fruit, or by themselves, to make pie. A tea from the dried fruit, with some honey, is good for upset stomach, as well as bad colds. The juice makes a healthful drink, but is so strong, that it is much better mixed with apple juice.

Look for elderberries along small streams. It's worth getting acquainted with.