Botanical Name : Sambucus nigra
Species: S. nigra
Common Names: elderberry, black elder, European elder, European elderberry and European black elderberry
Habitat :Sambucus nigra is native to most of Europe.It grows in a variety of conditions including both wet and dry fertile soils, primarily in sunny locations.
Sambucus nigra is a deciduous shrub or small tree growing to 6 m (20 ft) tall and wide (rarely 10m tall). The bark, light grey when young, changes to a coarse grey outer bark with lengthwise furrowing. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs, 10–30 cm long, pinnate with five to seven (rarely nine) leaflets, the leaflets 5–12 cm long and 3–5 cm broad, with a serrated margin.
The hermaphrodite flowers are borne in large, flat corymbs 10–25 cm diameter in mid summer, the individual flowers ivory white, 5–6 mm diameter, with five petals; they are pollinated by flies.
The fruit is a glossy dark purple to black berry 3–5 mm diameter, produced in drooping clusters in late autumn; they are an important food for many fruit-eating birds, notably blackcaps.
There are several other closely related species, native to Asia and North America, which are similar, and sometimes treated as subspecies of Sambucus nigra. The blue or Mexican elderberry, Sambucus mexicana, is now generally treated as one or two subspecies of S. nigra ssp. canadensis and ssp. caerulea
Some selections and cultivars have variegated or coloured leaves and other distinctive qualities, and are grown as ornamental plants.
The following cultivars have gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit:-
S. nigra ‘Aurea’
S. nigra ‘Laciniata’
S. nigra f. porphyrophylla ‘Gerda’ (syn. ‘Black beauty’)
The dark blue/purple berries can be eaten when fully ripe but are mildly poisonous in their unripe state. All green parts of the plant are poisonous, containing cyanogenic glycosides (Vedel & Lange 1960). The berries are edible after cooking and can be used to make jam, jelly, chutney and Pontack sauce.
The flowerheads are commonly used in infusions, giving a very common refreshing drink in Northern Europe and Balkans. Commercially these are sold as elderflower cordial, etc. In Europe, the flowers are made into a syrup or cordial (in Romanian: Socat?, in Swedish: fläder(blom)saft), which is diluted with water before drinking. The popularity of this traditional drink has recently encouraged some commercial soft drink producers to introduce elderflower-flavoured drinks (Fanta Shokata, Freaky Fläder). The flowers can also be dipped into a light batter and then fried to make elderflower fritters. In Scandinavia and Germany, soup made from the elder berry (e.g. the German Fliederbeersuppe) is a traditional meal.
Both flowers and berries can be made into elderberry wine, and in Hungary an elderberry brandy is made that requires 50 kg of fruit to produce 1 litre of brandy. In south-western Sweden, it is traditional to make a snaps liqueur flavoured with elderflower. Elderflowers are also used in liqueurs such as St. Germain and a mildly alcoholic sparkling elderflower ‘champagne’.
In Beerse, Belgium, a variety of Jenever called Beers Vlierke is made from the berries.
Constituents: flowers: small quantity of essential oil (containing palmitic, linoleic, and linolenic acids), triterpenes, flavonoids (including rutin), also pectin, mucilage, sugar. berries: sugar, fruit acids, vitamin c, bio-flavonoids. leaves: cyanogenic glycosides
Properties: * AntiCancer * AntiViral * Depurative * emetic
Parts Used: Flowers, berries
Used in the treatment of * Bronchitis * Colds * Congestion * Cough * Eyes/Vision * Flu * Sinus * Sore Throat
This plant is traditionally used as a medicinal plant by many native peoples and herbalists alike. Stembark, leaves, flowers, fruits, and root extracts are used to treat bronchitis, cough, upper respiratory cold infections, fever.
In a placebo-controlled, double-blind study, black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) was shown to be effective for treating Influenza B. People using the elderberry extract recovered much faster than those only on a placebo. The study was published in the Journal of Alternative Complementary Medicine.
A small study published in 2004 showed that 93% of flu patients given extract were completely symptom-free within two days; those taking a placebo recovered in about six days. This current study shows that it works for type A flu, reports lead researcher Erling Thom, with the University of Oslo in Norway. However, the study that showed these results was sponsored by an Israeli company that produces various black elderberry extracts.
Elderberry flowers are sold in Ukrainian and Russian drugstores for relief of congestion, specifically as an expectorant to relieve dry cough and make it productive. The dried flowers are simmered for 15 minutes, the resulting flavorful and aromatic tea is poured through a coffee filter. Some individuals find it better hot, others cold, and some may experience an allergic reaction.
Leaves of the elder tree are used in an ointment that is a folk remedy for bruises, sprains, chilblains and hard-to-cure skin irritations. The flowers are used to make infusions to treat bronchitis and colds, and cooled elder flower tea is a soothing medicine for eye irritations, and of course, the tasty berries are used to make elderberry wine and cordials. Elderberries have had many traditional healing uses throughout the ages, and have been used for constipation, colic, diarrhea, colds and rheumatism.
The dried berries make a tart and tasty, purple elderberry tea that is a family favorite at my house, especially in the winter. Combines well with hot spicy accents like cinnamon and ginger for a good cold remedy.
Key actions: Flowers: expectorant, reduces phlegm, circulatory stimulant, promote sweating, diuretic, topically anti-inflammatory; Berries: promote sweating, diuretic, laxative; Bark: purgative, promotes vomiting, diuretic; topically–emollient. The berries help coughs, colic, sore throats, asthma and flu. A pinch of cinnamon makes the tea more warming. The berries have also been taken for rheumatism and erysipelas. They are mildly laxative and also help diarrhea.
The flowers are infused for fevers, eruptive skin conditions such as measles and severe bronchial and lung problems. The infusion is relaxing and produces a mild perspiration that helps to reduce fever. The flowering tops tone the mucous linings of the nose and throat, increasing their resistance to infection. They are prescribed for chronic congestion, allergies, ear infections and candidiasis. Infusions of the flowering tops and other herbs can reduce the severity of hay fever attacks if taken for some months before the onset of the hay fever season. A classic flu remedy is a mixture of elderflower, yarrow and peppermint teas.
By encouraging sweating and urine production, elder flowering tops promote the removal of waste products from the body and are of value in arthritic conditions.
The specific compounds in elder flowers have not been well established for the diuretic and laxative properties. The compound sambuculin A and a mixture of alpha- and beta-amyrin palmitate have been found to exhibit strong antihepatotoxic activity against liver damage induced experimentally by carbon tetrachloride.
The bark’s energetics are bitter and toxic. Only bark that has been aged for a year or more should be used or cyanide poisoning may result. The Western species are more toxic. This herb has two compounds that are active against flu viruses. It also prevents the virus from invading respiratory tract cells. A patented Israeli drug (Sambucol) that contains elderberry is active against various strains of viruses. It also stimulated the immune system and has shown some activity in preliminary trials against other viruses, such as Epstein-Barr, herpes and even HIV.
Other Uses: The strong-smelling foliage was used in the past, tied to a horse’s mane, to keep flies away while riding
Elder rates as fair to good forage for wild game such as mule deer, elk, sheep, and small non-game birds. It is classified as nesting habitat for many birds, including hummingbirds, warblers, and vireos. Elderberries are a favorite food for migrating Band-Tailed pigeons in Northern California, which may sometimes strip an entire bush in a short amount of time.
It is also good cover for large and small mammals
Known Hazards: Elder is cited as a poisonous plant to mammals and as a weed in certain habitats. All parts of the plant except for the flowers and ripe berries (but including the ripe seeds) are poisonous, containing the cyanogenic glycoside sambunigrin (C14H17NO6, CAS number 99-19-4). The bark contains calcium oxalate crystals.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider