Subscribe to our Newsletter:
Healthy Diet Plans >>  Dietary Supplements >>  Elder


Elder or elderberry or Sambucus is a genus of 30 shrubs in the honeysuckle family. It is grown more commonly in the northern and southern hemisphere. Elder flowers and leaves are beautiful to look at, and the latter are pinnate having around 9 leaflets. They are pinnate and each leaf is 30 cms long with a serrated margin. In the spring season, white flowers are visible, followed by small reddish blue berries.
Their lifespan is 80 to 100 years.

Elderberries are a good food resource for birds. The crushed leaves and immature fruits have a fetid smell. Dead elderwood is the house for certain kinds of mushroom. The berries are harmful and so not eaten raw, as it results in vomiting. Cooking kills the toxins. The berries are made into pies, jams and sauces. The green plant parts comprise of cyanogenic glycosides and so are toxic. The herbal tea made with the flowers is beneficial for colds and febrile conditions. The flowers are also used to produce syrup or cordial, which is diluted with water in the ratio of 1:4 to make a good drink. This has given rise to elderflower flavored drinks, which are the latest in vogue.

The berries are small, round and luscious. They are purplish black in color, occurring in clusters and are berries with seeds around one eighth of an inch and are good supplements for pain relief. These berries are ready for consumption from the middle of summer. The blue elder has dark blue to blackish berries.

Elderberries plants with a red fruit appearing in rounded clusters are avoided. They may make people unwell and hence not advised. Hercules’ club is a shrub with feather-compound leaves that looks like the common elderberry with flat clusters of venomous, black berries. They are seen in an unbranched, thorny trunk. Elderberries are thorn less.

Gathering the berries is like the flowers, as this is quick, but the work begins at home: Pulling small bunches of berries from their stems, and sorting the fruit from the debris on a tray, takes time.

Avoid unripe, green berries, as they are sickening. Even raw ripe elderberries are nauseating. Cooking or drying removes the offending substance, and greatly improves the flavor. Baking this fruit in muffins, cakes and breads provides them with a peculiar crunchiness. This is attributed to the chemical components in the fruits. They are the primary raw material in the making of baked goods. Elderberries are devoid of sweetness and contain no additives or thickeners. Other elements are taken care of in case of necessity.

Submitted on January 16, 2014