Sambucus Canadensis (Common elder, Elderberry)

Elderberry bush is one of the more ubiquitous summer offerings from Gallup Park. In case you are wondering, the difference between a bush and a tree is canopy height – with bushes coming in less than 15 ft. tall. The bush is spotted throughout the park and blooms from late spring to mid-summer.

The beautiful white inflorescence is made up of flowers with five petals and five protruding stamen growing in a coryomb – which is botany speak for flat. If you think about it, to accomplish “flat,” the outer flowers have to be on longer pedicels (stems). I suppose this array gives the inflorescence a larger target for bees and other insects.

Photo by Stewart V. Nelson, 2018, ©️ Some rights reserved

In late fall, the bush produces dark berries that can be fermented to produce elderberry wine. I don’t suppose there are many vintage years, but what the heck. I borrowed a picture of the berries from Getty Images for you.

All parts of the plant are poisonous especially the roots, seeds and bark, but all become edible and quite delicious I hear after being boiled for 10 minutes. The hazardous chemical is a cyanide producing glycoside that can make you quite sick when combined with your stomach acids. When prepared properly or purchased over the counter, Elderberry is a terrific natural remedy.

The more I read about Elderberry, the more I begin to realize how dependent we are on these plants for figuring out the unique combinations and permutations of molecules used in our ethical medicine. Of course, we owe a great debt to our Native Americans for bravely figuring out how best to apply these remedies. Many of these folk remedies have not been tested for safety and efficacy, but Pubmed lists a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trial that actually proved that elderberry syrup is an effective way to shorten flu symptoms from 10 viral strains and with no adverse reaction to other medicines while Tamiflu list 21 possible. Seems to me Elderberry is a good substitute for Tamiflu. Don’t forget to to get your flu shot however.

Photo by Stewart V. Nelson, 2018, ©️ Some rights reserved

Photo by Stewart V. Nelson, 2018, ©️ Some rights reserved

Photo by Stewart V. Nelson, 2018, ©️ Some rights reserved

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