Ozarkansas Foraging -- Summer Splurge: Common Elderberry
1. a comforting or pleasant tasting medicine
2. a drink with a fruit base
Description: A shrub that produces flat-topped clusters of tiny, white to cream, five-petaled flowers followed by clusters of juicy, purple-black berries.
Available months: July-September
Where to find: the flowering shrub grows in damp, rich soils, stream banks, thickets, roadsides (never harvest from roadsides for edible uses), edges of fields/woods, or near old homesteads.
How to use: The flower cluster can be cooked into a fritter or used for a tea. Flowers can be dried for later use. The ripe, purple-black berries* of Sambucus canadensis can be cooked for use in drinks, jelly, syrup, or pie. Harvest by cutting the entire berry cluster off shrub, then picking berries off the stem later. They will store in the refrigerator for a few days. Whole berries can be frozen. Both flowers and berries are medicinal.
*The underripe, raw berries and the rest of the plant (twigs, roots, leaves) are toxic, as is the red elderberry species (Sambucus racemosa).