Blue Elderberry – Native Plant Spotlight

Each year King Conservation District sells more than 60,000 native plants. The Bareroot Native Plant Sale and Community Fair is only once a year and offers a great discount price for locally grown native plants.

Native plants have long been adapted specifically to our region. Not only do they grow well in our climate they also provide beneficial environmental outcomes that range from soil stabilization and water filtration, to beneficial wildlife and pollinator habitat. Native Americans in our region have traditionally used these plants for hundreds of years as food, fuel, fiber, and medicine. Keep an eye out for our native plant spotlights to learn fun facts and important uses for native plants that you could purchase today.

Blue Elderberry (Sambucus caerulea)

Blue elderberry has soft pithy twigs and 5-9 lance shaped leaflets. You will find this plant near streams, clearings, and open forests. Red elderberry is more common than blue, but keep in mind red elderberries are toxic and should not be eaten. The stem, bark, and leaves of both plants are toxic. Blue elderberries are known for their high pectin content that can be used to make jams or jellies. Large amounts of elderberries can be harvested from mature plants during July and August. These tart berries are a great source of vitamin C and have been used for wine, syrups, and pies. Fragrant flower petals can be eaten raw, fried or in tea. When the plant is in bloom from May to July it is often visited by hummingbirds and butterflies.

Anna Beebe, 2019 AmeriCorps Individual Placement

Featured Photo Credit: By J Brew – Blue elderberry – Brewton Road, CC BY-SA 2.0

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