Elder

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Peanut

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Elderberry… Sambucus nigra (European) and Sambucus canadensis (n. america). These are used in herbal medicine. There are other elderberry species. They are not used except one, dwarf elderberry only found in europe. The most toxic of the elderberries is Sambucus racemosa, native to n. amercia. It has red berries and should not be used for medicine.

All parts of the black elderberry and american black elderberry are medicinal but should be used with care. The bark and pith used incorrectly can induce vomiting. The leaves are much safer to use, even for children. The safest part to use are the blooms followed by the berries. The blooms and berries have an amazingly wide range of uses as well as the leaves, bark & pith.

The elder as a whole has some mysterious characteristics steeped in folklore. I have witnesses one of these that I still can’t explain… for another time perhaps.

Elder is a living medicine chest. Hippocrates, Plinius, Dioscorides and Galen have each written about Elder. 2400 years of medical history is a lot for anyone to digest.

For the purpose of this post I’ll stick with the blooms. Yesterday I processed enough blooms to produce about 40oz of tincture. The blooms have many, many uses. My immediate concern is the covid virus, influenza and colds. The blooms kill most viruses outright. They also stop virus replication. I do not have data on how they did against covid one on one but combined with other herbs to fight the covid elder did very well.

Henry Box, a famous English Quaker herbalist wrote concerning the 1918 influenza pandemic… “this is a certain cure. I have never known it to fail.” “It will not only save at the 11th hour but at the last minute of that hour. It is so harmless you cannot use it amiss, and so effectual that you cannot give it in vain.”

Some elder bloom tincture in the house is a must… imho.

My elder bushes did so-so this year, the weather has been wacky. The blooms were on the small side but there were lots of them. I’ll have plenty of berries left to dry in a few weeks.

Eldar tincture 20 (2).JPGEldar tincture 20 (3).JPGEldar tincture 20 (4).JPG
Eldar tincture 20 (5).JPG
 

Weedygarden

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How long is a tincture like this good for? I do know that the date gets written on the labels, so there must be a reason for that.
 

Peanut

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A tincture from a retailer has to meet certain FDA requirements, one being an expiration date. The labels usually say 5 years.

Reality is a different story. It depends on the species of plant, the part of the plant used, the moisture content when processed, the alcohol ratio in the tincture, any other additives and storage methods... In other words, there is no simple answer to your question.

The way I processed these elder blooms should give a tincture that lasts 8 to 12 years when stored properly... Don't ask "how to tell if a tincture goes bad?"... they can go bad several different ways for several different reasons.
 

Weedygarden

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I'm looking at Stark Brothers elderberry plants. I am curious what recommendations anyone has for which plant to get?


Currently the following varieties are available:
Adams-- $21.99
Johns -- $23.99
Nova -- $21.99
Ranch -- $55.99
Wyldewood -- $48.99
York -- $21.99
 

Patchouli

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@Weedygarden the description for the Nova variety states:
"An easy-care addition to the edible landscape. Wide clusters of creamy white flowers appear in spring, making wonderful components for bouquets or for dipping in batter and making fritters. If left on the bush, the flowers develop into bountiful bunches of tender, deep purple berries used in jams, jellies, pies, and wines. Being native to North America, these fast-growing bushes also appeal to wildlife, like bees and hummingbirds, as a food source. Cold-hardy. Ripens in early August. Best pollinator: any other elderberry variety. "
Doesn't necessarily mean it is the more "natural" variety, but that's the one I would go with, personally. Plus it also pollinates well with any of the other elderberry varieties.
Peanut's mileage may vary.
 

Patchouli

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haha. I have never made not yet made my own tinctures, @Weedygarden but my experience with bought tinctures has been that if you bought it full, have never opened it, and the level has gone down, you might want to not use it. I have kept opened bottles of various tinctures past their expiration dates with no ill effects but I'm not advising anyone to do the same.
 

Weedygarden

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@Weedygarden the description for the Nova variety states:
"An easy-care addition to the edible landscape. Wide clusters of creamy white flowers appear in spring, making wonderful components for bouquets or for dipping in batter and making fritters. If left on the bush, the flowers develop into bountiful bunches of tender, deep purple berries used in jams, jellies, pies, and wines. Being native to North America, these fast-growing bushes also appeal to wildlife, like bees and hummingbirds, as a food source. Cold-hardy. Ripens in early August. Best pollinator: any other elderberry variety. "
Doesn't necessarily mean it is the more "natural" variety, but that's the one I would go with, personally. Plus it also pollinates well with any of the other elderberry varieties.
Peanut's mileage may vary.
Thank you. In reading what you shared from there, it looks like it is important to have two different varieties, much like some other plants.
 

Weedygarden

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haha. I have never made not yet made my own tinctures, @Weedygarden but my experience with bought tinctures has been that if you bought it full, have never opened it, and the level has gone down, you might want to not use it. I have kept opened bottles of various tinctures past their expiration dates with no ill effects but I'm not advising anyone to do the same.
One day I will try to make some tinctures. If I have elderberries, that would be one of the things to make tinctures from.
 

Patchouli

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(I'm not de-railing the thread, but I had a big ol' hawthorn tree in the front yard of one of our homes and I wish I would have tinctured those berries. It was lovely in the fall and winter).
Do you have a large yard? or a 1/4 acre or so?
 

Weedygarden

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(I'm not de-railing the thread, but I had a big ol' hawthorn tree in the front yard of one of our homes and I wish I would have tinctured those berries. It was lovely in the fall and winter).
Do you have a large yard? or a 1/4 acre or so?
I don't know that I have seen hawthorns before.
I have a decent sized yard, but I am not sure how large it is.
 

Grimm

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I'm looking at Stark Brothers elderberry plants. I am curious what recommendations anyone has for which plant to get?


Currently the following varieties are available:
Adams-- $21.99
Johns -- $23.99
Nova -- $21.99
Ranch -- $55.99
Wyldewood -- $48.99
York -- $21.99
I have been eyeing the Wyldewood plants but from Hirt's.

I did read you don't get berries for at least 2 years with new/young plants.
 

Weedygarden

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I have been eyeing the Wyldewood plants but from Hirt's.

I did read you don't get berries for at least 2 years with new/young plants.
Not getting berries for at least 2 years sounds about right. I think it takes some things a while to get established.
I need to do more reading about the different kinds of plants to help me decide which kinds to get.
 

Grimm

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Not getting berries for at least 2 years sounds about right. I think it takes some things a while to get established.
I need to do more reading about the different kinds of plants to help me decide which kinds to get.
Just like with any garden plant make sure it will thrive in your zone.
 

goshengirl

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@Weedygarden, I like Stark's, they're good - but I wish we were closer, as I'd have plenty of wild elderberry to share with you!

Several years ago I ordered some elderberry - I don't remember the specific cultivar names - then all this wild elderberry started showing up. I've noticed a couple of differences between the wild and the cultivated varieties. The wild elders flower and fruit almost a whole month after the cultivated (which is a nice thing about having both - makes the season longer). And the wild are more shade loving, while the cultivated need more light.
 

randyt

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I got 75 shoots frommy cooperative extension office.None of them survived. However i was roaming around my beaver dam and was surprised to find several elder bushes. Would still like to get a big bunch growing. Have some berries and plan on making a tincture.
 

Peanut

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Now that we’ve got around to transplanting… I should relate the story I barely mentioned in my original post. ”The elder as a whole has some mysterious characteristics steeped in folklore. I have witnessed one of these that I still can’t explain… for another time perhaps.”

1. The lore and folklore of Elder goes back in written record to ancient Greece and makes a stop in just about every culture and religion since, even Christianity. Almost all hold that Elder is a connection to the underworld or afterlife with great mystery. Volumes have been written on this subject. For instance Plinius of ancient Rome wrote about the haunting beauty of music made by flutes from Elder wood. The wood is harvested on the last day of April… as are leaves when intending to dry and store them for medicine.

2. A story related in “The Book of Herbal Wisdom” by Matthew Wood, referring to a friend of his who went out to harvest an Elderberry sprout of transplanting… “It is, however, much more difficult to transplant an Elder into the garden than one would suppose. One of my friends found out by experience. She went out in her woods, identified a small Elder, and enlisted a friend to help dig it up. She is an experienced woodsman and herbalist, so the adventure that followed is rather strange. “I don’t know how the Elder did it, but after digging for 45 minutes, when we almost had it out of the ground, we found that it was another kind of bush!”

I include this story because the exact same thing happened to me. I took the photo below that very day. There were 100 or so little elder sprouts to choose from beside a gravel road. I actually dug up 10 or so sprouts that day, but the first one… Already had leaves growing, late spring. I identified my selection and started digging. The root turned 90 degrees just under the surface and went out about 3ft. When I got it out it was no longer and elder but a small maple. The leaves had changed. I’m not making this up and have no explanation.

I personally know two people who have experienced the same thing. I once related this story to a room of herbalists… They believed me because almost every one of them knew someone who had the same experience or something very odd. Also… there are written accounts of these phenomenon going back hundreds of years. But for these I would assume I had made a mistake that day, but I didn’t make a mistake. It was an elder when I started digging, and wasn’t when I finished. I have no explanation. So, believe what you will but don’t be surprised if something strange happens transplanting Elder.

Wild species of Elder are extremely hardy. I transplanted in late May when the shrubs had already leafed out. I set out 10 or so, 2 died. I’ve never transplanted anything that late in the year before, almost didn’t attempt it for that reason. But, I found all those sprouts beside the road that day and couldn’t resist trying.

Elder a01 (1).jpg

Elder a01 (2).jpg
 
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Weedygarden

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What zone are you in Weedy? I looked at the Starks Elder plants and most all of them would work for my area. I'm zone 7B
I'm in 5B zone. When I tell the web site my zip code it showed the zone and then the plants that work for my zone.

@Weedygarden, I like Stark's, they're good - but I wish we were closer, as I'd have plenty of wild elderberry to share with you!

Several years ago I ordered some elderberry - I don't remember the specific cultivar names - then all this wild elderberry started showing up. I've noticed a couple of differences between the wild and the cultivated varieties. The wild elders flower and fruit almost a whole month after the cultivated (which is a nice thing about having both - makes the season longer). And the wild are more shade loving, while the cultivated need more light.
I've gotten all of my fruit trees from Stark's. They have great products. My first tree from them was a peach tree that was amazing. My neighbor asked me where I got it and what kind it was. I planted it one spring and the next year it was loaded. I also want to get some blueberry bushes from them.

I would have to look through my PM's, but a year or so ago another member sent me a PM and said he would send me some elderberry plants. I never heard from him. I would be willing to pay for postage if someone would send me some. Stark wraps the roots with damp wood chips, damp cardboard and wraps that with plastic.
 

viking

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Elderberry trees are hard to kill, when I worked for the local school district there was an elder tree in a tight cove in the west end of the elementary school and each year it would outgrow it's space and I would cut it back to nearly nothing and the next year it would look as if I hadn't touched it, we had an elder tree on our west side but I had to cut it out down to the roots as it was right where the stem wall was going to be for our sun room. Talk about a bird attractant, gross beaks and cedar waxwings would descend on the berries by the hundreds and you could hear them coming from miles away. The blooms and fruit also make very good tasting wine. Thankfully they are all up and down along our county road. Another thing I've read about them is that it's said that usually within ten feet below where they grow, there will be water.
 

Spikedriver

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When I was a kid we never had elderberry growing on the farm. But in the last ten or fifteen years they've gotten thick as a thistle patch. There's dozens and dozens of them in the old feed lot and around the edges of the east grove. I considered harvesting some but nobody wanted to make anything out of them and I didn't have time. Maybe this year I'll get around to it...
 

Weedygarden

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@Weedygarden, I'm game to try sending some. I'm thinking late March, early April would be the best timing. Please, please, please remind me, okay? I will forget, but will be so glad you reminded me (it's embarrassing, but I know myself well enough to know - it's the way things are these days).
Thank you! I'm going to write it on my calendar to help remind you.
 

Peanut

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I pruned my elder bushes on 31dec, took a chainsaw to them. It was long overdue. I didn't prune all of them, only about 60%. Those won't produce this year but will next year. The ones I didn't touch will produce this year.

Also, a pic of the pruned stumps today, they are putting out shoots everywhere.

Elder 30dec20 (1) sm.JPGEldar apr2021 (2) sm.JPG
 

Neb

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Thank you for mentioning they will bloom the year after pruning. I pruned mine back and will not be disappointed when don't bloom.

Thank you

Ben
 

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