Elderberry - Sambucus nigra


Sambucus nigra

Elderberry is a great immune boosting herb to help aide a cold/flu. In addition to overall immune support, it has been researched for its anti-bacterial properties.

  • Plant Family: Adoxaceae
  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Other names: Elder, Common Elder
  • Medicinal: Yes
  • Culinary: Yes
  • Ceremonial: No
  • Parts Used: Flowers & Berries
  • Side Effects: Raw berries & flowers can cause nausea, vomiting & diarrhea.
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About Elderberry

This legendary botanical should be planted after departing of frost, i.e. in spring preferably in March. Both indoor and outdoor settings are perfect to do the job but with great care. Be it a pot, or your backyard, elderberries know the rule of adaptation but the most crucial point that you need to watch out for is drought. Soil should be highly moist with its pH ranging from 5.5 to 6.5.

For containerized plants, an intense pruning (preferably from soil level for the damaged canes) is observed to keep the canes and bushes within the limits of the pot. While pruning and fertilizing the plant, roots must not be damaged to keep the process of growth up and running.

The same rules are applied for outdoor planting except for excessive pruning. However, a dire need of pulling off the weeds is necessary to avoid competition. 


For initiation of germination, elderberry seeds stand in the need of coldness or stratification to break dormancy. Upon the provision of moist soil, optimum temperature and a good amount of sunlight, sprouting occurs. 

Seed stratification is another process in which fresh seeds are sown in pots filled with a mixture of half coarse and half sterile potting soil. Sow at least two seeds in a pot at a depth of ¼ inch. Wrap the pots in plastic wrap and place them in a well-ventilated cold area where sunlight can easily reach them. Then warm the pots for a period of two months with intermittent remoistening of sand. Subsequently, transit the pots in a cold area where the temperature is as low as 40 Fahrenheit and keep them there for three to five months. Time and again, keep remoistening the sand. Remove the seedling when sprouts emerge and decrease the frequency of irrigation. Keep growing them until your labor proves to be fruitful.

Seed dispersal widely occurs through birds whereas pollination occurs mainly through bees and other insects. The plant performs self-pollination when there seems to be no possibility for cross-pollination. After fertilization, the flower transforms into a dark purple colored berry.


Early fall comes with the ripening berries that are luxuriously juicy and just when the color deepens to dark purple giving a heavy and plump appearance, you know your berries are all set to tingle your taste buds.

Elderberries are quite easy to harvest but there are certain norms for healthy harvest action. The fruit must be fully ripped as unripe berries are poisonous and can cause some serious disturbance in your stomach.

Make use of pruning shears and cut the entire cluster of elderberries while keeping a little bit portion of stem as it serves as a makeshift handle.

For flowers, just snip off the bunch of blooms once it has opened.

Harvesting roots simply means either you want to propagate your elderberries or you want it for its alkaloids. Again grab your pruning shears, cut the bushes and pull off the roots to make its use.

At last, seed harvesting is as easy as ABC. Just grab elderberries, crush them and soak them for 24 hours to let go of the seeds.


There are several methods through which a plethora of perks of elderberries can be enjoyed. Some of them are listed below 

  • Tincture - dried berries are used to make a tincture that is clinically proven in boosting the immune system.
  • Tea - dried elderberries are used to make an immunizing tea along with some cinnamon and honey to sweeten it.
  • Decoction - de-stemmed elderberries are boiled with an appropriate amount of water.
  • Syrup- Elderberry juice is simmered or powdered elderberries are boiled to form elderberry syrup.
  • Infused oil - Elderflowers are utilized to make the infused oil.

Elderberry Videos

How to harvest fresh elderberry