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Plant Identification: SOLVED: Wild elderberries? Can I eat them?

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Blackwing
Gazelle, CA

September 20, 2005
6:00 PM

Post #1771188

These grow on my property -- far northern California -- berries are ripe now. Here is a big cluster of berries. What are they? Are they edible? The elderberries I knew back east were much darker, but otherwise very similar. When you rub the bloom off of these berries, they are dark underneath.

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Blackwing
Gazelle, CA

September 20, 2005
6:05 PM

Post #1771203

Here is a photo of another berry cluster, not as full as the first:

Thumbnail by Blackwing
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Blackwing
Gazelle, CA

September 20, 2005
6:09 PM

Post #1771213

Here is the leaf.

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Blackwing
Gazelle, CA

September 20, 2005
6:18 PM

Post #1771225

There are many stems. Here is a closeup of the bark.

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Blackwing
Gazelle, CA

September 20, 2005
6:29 PM

Post #1771244

Here is the whole bush. It is about 10 feet tall.

Thumbnail by Blackwing
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trackinsand

trackinsand
mid central, FL
(Zone 9a)

September 20, 2005
7:21 PM

Post #1771328

not to discourage you from finding an id on DG, but if you are really wanting to eat berries, i would take this to your extension office to get a positive id. i wouldn't eat a berry unless i was absolutely sure. elderberry wine is good, but eating, i don't know, maybe google a couple of sites too. debi
moko
Northern, AR
(Zone 6b)

September 20, 2005
8:00 PM

Post #1771411

I make jelly from this fruit, and a great tasting wine from the blossoms. You can make wine from the fruit but I pefer the amber wine from the blossoms.
kennedyh
Churchill, Victoria
Australia
(Zone 10a)



September 20, 2005
8:49 PM

Post #1771522

It looks to me very like the Blue Elderberry (Sambucus caerulea) http://davesgarden.com/pf/showimage/19634/

melody

melody
Benton, KY
(Zone 7a)


September 21, 2005
1:28 AM

Post #1772038

Elderberries don't have much taste when eaten fresh...they are much better in jelly and wine...they seem to have a much richer flavor when processed somehow...the berries are tiny and somewhat seedy...great for birds, but humans tend to want theirs with more zest.
Ulrich
Manhattan Beach, CA
(Zone 11)

September 21, 2005
2:17 AM

Post #1772111

Considering where you live it is most likely Sambucus canadensis. According to http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holunder you should not eat the berries raw.
S. nigra has white pith inside the stems; does yours?
Equilibrium

September 21, 2005
2:34 AM

Post #1772153

I think along the lines of Ulrich of your plant being S. canadensis-
http://davesgarden.com/pf/showimage/87870/
If you break open the stems, mine is an off white just as was mentioned above.

Have never eaten any straight off the bush but the birds love them. When I was a kid the old timers used to make elderberry wine. I was too young to drink so have no idea what it tasted like. My neighbor came over and collected all of my elderberries to make jelly about a week or so ago. She gave me a jar last year and it was pretty darn good on regular toasted English Muffins. I'm looking forward to getting another jar this year.
Blackwing
Gazelle, CA

September 21, 2005
3:22 AM

Post #1772285

Comparing the two types of elderberry, it looks more like the sambucus caerulia to me than the sambucus canadensis. The berries are definitely blue, and the dark color only shows when you rub the bloom off. But, in any case -- it is great advice to verify with the extension agent. I keep forgetting that resource is available. So, assuming I can get a positive i.d. before the birds and bears get them, I'd welcome your recipes for jelly and wine. Also, the wine from the flowers sounds good. Thank you all for your help! I will post again after I know for sure what they are.
kathy_ann
Judsonia, AR
(Zone 7b)

September 21, 2005
6:18 PM

Post #1773318

We make elderberry jelly from wild elderberries, they grow along the ditches here where there's plenty of water. Elderberry juice is great for boosting the immune system during the cold season, I've not drank the juice but rather buy it at the health food store. Though one could put some sort of sweetener in it and drink it. There's not thing at all poisonious with the elderberries growing around here.

kathy
kennedyh
Churchill, Victoria
Australia
(Zone 10a)



September 21, 2005
9:00 PM

Post #1773632

Hannelore1
You ask for recipes for Elderflower Wine. We don't make Elderflower Wine, but Elderflower Champagbe is a great favourite of ours and one of the easiest wines to make. Here is the recipe:
Quoting:ELDERFLOWER CHAMPAGNE
7 heads elderflowers
1 gallon cold water
1.25 lb sugar
2 lemons
2 tablespoonfuls of white-wine vinegar
Method: Boil the water, pour over the sugar; when cold throw in the flowerheads, slice lemons and add the white wine vinegar. Let stand 24 hours. Strain and bottle. Cork well, and it is very fizzy, true to its name.
Mrs Hall, Austwick, Lancaster


The elderflowers should be picked with the sun on them and put straight in the sugar water as it uses the natural yeast on the flowers and this can be very variable.

The wine is ready to drink after three months or less. We nowadays use plastic lemonade bottles and you can tell if it is working well, as the pressure build up inside makes the bottles very taut and hard.

Beware though! The first time we made any, in glass bottles, the first bottle exploded in the cupboard and the first we opened was so effervescent that 3/4's of the bottle erupted onto the floor.

It is so popular in our family, that my son made a large batch of it and served it at his wedding reception.

Ken
Blackwing
Gazelle, CA

September 22, 2005
5:58 PM

Post #1775324

Kathy -- thanks for the tip about the juice. I am growing stevia to use as a natural sweetener, which would probably be very good in the elderberry juice.

Ken -- thanks for the elderflower wine recipe. I'll try to make some next spring. Sounds great!

Hannelore
Karrie20x
Spokane, WA
(Zone 5b)

September 23, 2005
9:08 AM

Post #1776455

Elderberry bushes grew wild where I grew up when I was a child, I always loved to pick them and eat them.

But now, as a grown-up (I thinks!) I would follow the advice of having them checked out first - just to be safe. There are so many poisoness (my spelling is terrible tonight) berries that you just need to be better safe than sorry.
Blackwing
Gazelle, CA

September 23, 2005
7:43 PM

Post #1777427

Definitely! I will check them out for sure.
rcn48
Lexington, VA
(Zone 6a)

September 25, 2005
8:59 AM

Post #1780449

Hannelore1, I agree with kennedyh, Sambucus caerulea. When travelling in Oregon several years ago in October, we saw this Sambucus and the blue fruit was spectacular. Michael Dirr says in his Manual of Woody Landscape Plants, fruit is good for jellies, jam and wine.
Blackwing
Gazelle, CA

September 25, 2005
6:45 PM

Post #1781070

Thanks, rcn48. I bettter get to them quick before someone else does (someone with four legs . . . or someone with feathers!)
MerryMary
Ocoee (W. Orlando), FL
(Zone 9b)

November 22, 2005
11:52 PM

Post #1889603

If what you have truly is elderberry, they are wonderful. We ate them fresh as children, and my sisterinlaw and I would make Elderberry Fizz, almost identical to the Elderberry Champagne listed above. The wines, jams, and jellies are great too, or can be used in other berry pies. (or combined with rhubarb) My grandmother used to take the fresh blossoms, dip them in a light tempura batter, deep fry them, and sprinkle with powdered sugar, much like a funnel cake for breakfast. Elderberries can be rooted easily in water, if you get semi-hard wood cuttings.
MerryMary

melody

melody
Benton, KY
(Zone 7a)


November 23, 2005
2:55 AM

Post #1889939

I've got to try the Champagne!

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