ELDER

Square

Sambucus nigra or S. canadensis
Berry and flower

DO NOT PICK RED ELDERBERRY! That is a different plant and may be toxic.

Both the elderflowers and the elderberries are medicinal, but of course they come at different times in the season. Harvest some flowers, leaving some clusters to develop into berries later in the season. Dry the flowers and store in a dark jar to preserve the quality. Elderflowers make a lovely tea that you can sip as needed.

Elderberries should be snipped from the plant when most are a nice dark color. After snipping, you can pick through the berries, throwing out any that are not fully ripe. Elderberries must be cooked before consuming. Because of the seasonal nature of this fruit and because it’s a favorite of our feathered friends, I harvest what I can, dry them for later use unless I’m making syrup, and leave some for the birds.

In addition, I try to keep at least a pound of the berries on hand, purchased from a reputable organic source early in the season, before they become scarce and expensive. These can be used as needed to make elderberry syrup or even tea.