Elderberries are small, dark berries that grow in clusters on elder trees (also called elderberry bushes), and are very common throughout Europe and North America. They have a long history of human use, from food, to wine, and even for medicine. One of my favorite uses is Elderberry Crostata with Lemon. They are a fast-growing plant which can grow up to 13 feet tall. The leaves are compound and feather-like, the bark smooth and gray with little bumps. The branches are pliable when young, brittle when older, and have a white pith inside which is sometimes hollow like a tube. In late spring or early summer, tightly clustered bunches of tiny white lacy flowers form in large umbrella shaped clusters. In late summer to early fall, clusters of berries begin to ripen where the flowers used to be. These berries are a favorite staple food supply for many wildlife, especially birds. They’re soon to be a favorite for you too.
Where do I find elderberries?
Elderberries are very common and easy to find. They like to grow in the moist soil along roadsides, ditches, and streams. Where you find one tree, you’ll likely find several more. They are easiest to spot in the late summer/early fall when the clusters of berries are full and purple. The trees look like a patch of woody stalks covered with leaves and patches of purple clusters splattered throughout. There are several varieties of elderberries, some even having red berries. But I’ve only ever had the purple ones, which for me, are the easiest to identify and the most plentiful to find.
What parts of the elderberry tree can I use?
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