Elderberry is a fairly common plant in Frederick County, found in stream bottoms and lowland areas that are moderately wet but not swampy. There are nearly 50 species of elderberry, or elder, found throughout the world. Elderberries (Sambucus) are found in every continent except Africa and Australia. The native elderberries found in Frederick County are Sambucus canadensis, or Eastern Elderberry.

The elderberry bush can have multiple stems and grow to a height of 20 feet, potentially surviving for hundreds of years. Elderberries have lancelet leaves and a white flower that blooms in mid-June in this area, with a purple fruit that develops in August. These fruits are very valuable food sources for many birds; a number of butterflies and moths feed on the leaves during their larval stage. The fruit of elderberry is mildly poisonous when eaten raw, but when cooked, elderberries are used for pies, jams, tea, wine, and other liqueurs. The Scandinavians and Germans have a traditional elderberry soup. Elderberry is widely used for streamside “riparian” plantings because it is hardy, grows fast, and has many benefits for wildlife.

See more nature notes and all the images of Elderberries on the boards website.

Article by FCFCDB

Nature note for 9/5/2020