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 Hardy to Zones 3 to 9


Perennial, deciduous, multistemmed woody shrub native to Eastern and Central North America, including Canada and the US, from Nova Scotia all the way to Florida, and west into Iowa and Illinois.  This is the wild form that may easily be seen flowering in low places, moist ground and swails in the midwest.  It makes very large flowers and is quite common.  The berries are considered equal to the European black elderberry in terms of taste and activity, although the great majority of studies have been conducted on the European form, which has been shown to contain a unique antiviral protein.  Traditional us of American Black Elderberry (TWM, Native American): Colds, flu, immune enhancement.  Source of anthocyanins, bioflavonoids, vitamins and antioxidants. The syrup, tincture or glycerite of these berries is traditionally used (TWM) for treating the common cold and for overall increase in immunity.  


Deciduous shrub to small tree native to Western US.  Wild form. A pretty tree, tough in the landscape, bedecked in season by lush flowers and then dangling clusters of blue berries, characteristically dusted with white wax.  Elderberry berries are rich in anthocyanins, bioflavonoids, vitamins and antioxidants.


Deciduous shrub to small tree native to North America and Eurasia.   The plant can grow as tall as 25 feet, and a typical spread is about 12 feet.  The yellowish-white flowers are highly aromatic (really the best smelling of all the elder species).  Flowering is in late spring, and all other factors being equal, fruiting occurs before other elder species, usually in June.  The berries are high in vitamin C and quite tasty, but the SEEDS have the highest toxicity of all the elder species, so either you have to spit the seeds, or juice the berries and throw out the seeds, or cook the berries, which helps detoxify the seeds (see my book Making Plant Medicine for the finer details of all this.) For all practical purposes, both for production of medicines and jams, it is best to use black or blue elderberries.  The birds do very well with the red.   Red elder makes a fast-growing shrub for landscape, shelterbelt or edible hedgerow.  I rate this plant with very high marks for habitat diversification, as it is indeed a preferred foodstuff for many species of birds.  Medicinally, this is not the species I would choose for treating the common cold (black elder would be better for that), but the leaves are very good for making salves. Fresh leaves may be covered with oil in a jar and left to infuse for a week or two, then filtered out, to make a fine green oil that is very soothing to sunburn and speeds healing, either by itself as and oil or further processed into salve.  Typified by rapid growth, red elder prefers sun to part shade and moist, well drained, slightly acid soils.  Sowing this newly harvested seed in the fall will result in germination in the first or second spring. Alternately, place the seed in moist medium and refrigerate for 90 days, then sow in cool, moist shade (outdoor conditions only).    Seedlings and adult trees are Nitrogen lovers–give chicken manure or copious amounts of compost for best results.

Approximately 30  seeds/pkt, in dried berries (certified organically grown)

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