Elderberry has a well documented history of use in folk remedies. In the Middle Ages elderberry was considered a Holy Tree, capable of restoring good health, keeping good health, and as an aid to longevity. Hippocrates referred to elderberry as “nature’s medicine chest”. All parts of the elderberry plant are considered a valuable healing plant in many folk and native medicine traditions (Hutchens 1991, Walker et al. 1993; Barrett et al. 1933; Clarke 1977). The flowers are used externally to aid in complexion beauty, tone and soften the skin, and lighten freckles or spots. The berry juice made into salve aids burns and scalds (Hutchens 1991). Elderberry flowers contain flavenoids and rutin, which are known to improve immune function, particularly in combination with vitamin “C.” The flowers also contain tannins, which account for its traditional use to reduce bleeding, diarrhea, and congestion.

Elderberries have twice the Vitamin C of oranges and 3 times the anti-oxidants of blueberries. They are high in polyphenols and bioflavonoids. Use of the elderberry and elderflower is common and widespread in Europe. Modern science is now beginning a serious study of the plant’s nutritional properties and uses. The following are links to recent elderberry research information and news:

Can elderberry help treat colds and flu?

Standardized Elderberry Syrup Shortens the Severity and Duration of Influenza in Adults

Antibacterial activity of elder (Sambucus nigra L.) flower or berry against hospital pathogens

Elderberry cms.herbalgram.org/heg/volume7/files/Elderberry.pdf

Elderberry flavonoids bind to and prevent H1N1 infection in vitro

Inhibition of several strains of influenza virus in vitro and reduction of symptoms by an elderberry extract (Sambucus nigra L.) during an outbreak of influenza B Panama

The American Botanical Council Clinical Guide to Elder Berry cms.herbalgram.org/press/files/elderberry-scr.pdf

Identification of the 100 richest dietary sources of polyphenols: an application of the Phenol-Explorer database https://nature.com/articles/ejcn2010221

Medicinal Uses of Elderberry https://www.mdidea.com/products/new/new07407.html

For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Elderberry in Conservation and Habitat

Elderberry is planted for forage and cover value, productivity, adaptability, and ease of establishment. It is a useful ground cover for stabilizing stream banks and eroding sites. It provides food, cover, perching, and nesting sites for many species of birds and food and cover for other wildlife, and it is important as browse for deer and elk.

Elderberry produces a good seed crop almost every year. The seeds are dispersed by birds and other animals that eat the fruit. The seeds have a hard seed coat and embryo dormancy and may remain viable for up to 16 years in storage. Without pretreatment, seed germination may be delayed from 2 to 5 years after planting. Plants may flower and fruit after only 2-3 years and can reach full size in 3-4 years.

Excerpts from the USDA and NRCS Plant Guide for the Common Elderberry

Other Informative References
Elderberry Research- University Of Missouri
The Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture
Wildflower Center
Distribution map