The Black Elderberry, European Elderberry – Sambucus Nigra
Story and images by Ewa Bekiesch – Permaculture Designer, self-sufficient living consultant and educator, gardener, healthy food lover
Mythical… Magical… Medicinal… Beautiful… Delicious… And it loves to grow in our backyards all over Australia!
The Black Elderberry, The European Elderberry – Sambucus nigra
I don’t see many of them growing around and that is why I love to share with you some information about this beautiful and useful plant. It is very pretty, frost resistant, bees love it, chickens love it and you can use it in so many ways!
According to Wolf-Dieter Storl (trained professional anthropologist) the Black Elderberry was the faithful companion of the ancient healers and people’s friend around the world since the Stone Age! The Elderberry tree was considered as a gate to the kingdom of the Goddess Frau Holle and the entrance to the kingdom of the ancient people.
It was a very important healing plant and the farmers’ pharmacy tree. The flowers, fruits, bark, and branches of the elderberry were used in many different ways. The ancient people also believed that it can heal with its energy and it was thought to absorb illness and negative energy, either through direct contact or within proximity so it was always planted near the house or at the house entry.
It is still a very popular plant in traditional medicine in Europe and is used to fight cold and flue as flowers and berries have anti-viral and immune strengthening properties and are packed with vitamins and antioxidants.
We got a few of these beautiful and useful trees/shrubs growing at our permaculture homestead and I am still planting new ones! Our chickens, guinea fowls, ducks, and geese love to hide under and enjoy the shade for most of the day. The native and the honey bees love the blossoms, the birds enjoy the little round fruits and because the shrub is packed with flowers and berries, there is enough for everyone, even for us!
It grows very quickly and easily in nitrogen-rich soil so it will thrive in a good soil mix with blood and bone or if you plant it next to the chicken house it will thank you with lots of flowers and fruits for the most time of the year.
The flowers and berries are delicious and usable in so many ways: fritters, tea, wine, syrup, cordial, tincture, jelly, jam, chantey, soup, souse, liqueur, sparkling wine, the list goes on.
We propagate and sell the Sambucus nigra in our online shop at www.foodforestseeds.au You are very welcome to contact me if you want to add a little bit of magic to your backyard.
Note: Do not confuse the Sambucus nigra with the American Elderberry – Sambucus canadensis They both look very similar but parts of the American Elderberry are poisonous.
Here are a couple of links to my Elderberry recipes:
Disclaimer: Please note that any information given here is for educational purposes only. Please make your own research before you try to eat or use any new plant.