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Elderberry (Sambucus nigra)

All parts of the black elderberry are poisonous, except for the flowers!!! Even the raw berries!!!

Elderberry (Sambucus nigra)


Effective on the kidneys and bladder, diuretic, diaphoretic, blood purifying, cough relieving, stool stimulating, fever reducing, stimulating, strengthening, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, expectorant

Areas of application:

Supports the immune system, cleanses kidneys and stomach, cold, cough, hoarseness, flu, larynx and throat problems, dropsy, trigeminal pain, rheumatism, earache, constipation, arthritis, edema, neuralgic pain, runny nose, asthma, jaundice, hemorrhoids, fever, bruises , strains, hemorrhoids, eye irritation, conjunctivitis

Plant parts used:

Flowers, fruits, leaves, bark, roots

Collection time:

Flowering from June to July

Berries when they are deep black, around August - late summer


Rutin, essential oil, tannin, mucus, choline, saponin, acid, resin, sugar, glycosides, flavonoids, vitamins, minerals


☕ Pour 200 ml of boiling hot water over 1 tablespoon of flowers. Cover and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes and then drain through a sieve. 4 cups daily for acute, feverish colds.

Elderberry grows as a broad, woody shrub up to 3.5 meters high. The segmented stems have a soft, white pith. The bark is smooth and green when young. As the wood ages, the bark becomes smooth and brown, and you can see round lumps on the bark. As the shrub continues to age, the bark forms vertical furrows. The opposite, compound leaves have 5 to 11 toothed, lanceolate leaflets per stem. The leaf veins may disappear after leaving the midrib or continue to the tip of the teeth. The elderflower is a dense head of white to cream-colored flowers. The flowers are radially symmetrical with five flat white petals and five protruding stamens. The flower head has a diameter of 15 to 30 cm. Elderberries are black or purplish-blue when ripe and appear in clusters.

🛑 All parts of the fresh plant are poisonous. The bark and root are a vomit-inducing agent and should not be used internally. The leaves and unripe berries are poisonous. Except for the flowers.

A glycoside that is strongly represented in elderberries is the so-called sambunigrin. When combined with water, it releases small amounts of hydrogen cyanide, which can cause gastrointestinal problems in humans (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea). So if you want to eat the black berries, you should heat them at 80 degrees for at least 20 minutes. Boiling the red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa) doesn't help either, they are not edible!

What should also not be forgotten is the risk of confusion with the dwarf elderberry/attic (Sambucus ebulus, synonyms: for example Viburnum ebulus and Ebulum humile) (smells unpleasant and the berries point upwards) and the hemlock (e.g. spotted hemlock (Conium maculatum) and water hemlock (Cicuta virosa). The leaves of both are different from those of the black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) and the black elderberry smells sweet.

The hemlock is a herbaceous plant, not woody and has no bark. The main stem is hollow, while the elderberry is filled with a soft pith. Water hemlock stems often have purple streaks/spots and purple nodes. Older plants may be completely purple.

Dwarf elderberry only blooms when its big brother, the real elderberry, has already produced its berries. It emits a bitter, rather unpleasant smell, just like the grape elderberry. The berries of the dwarf elder are upright and the berries of the real elder are hanging. The flowers of the grape elderberry are grape-shaped and those of the real elderberry are plate-shaped.

Hildegard von Bingen: If you have jaundice, go into a steam bath and place leaves on the heated stones. Then he puts the sprouts in wine and drinks it. Then he lies down in bed. Let him do this often and he will be healed.

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