elderberry leaf identification

As you walk or drive in early summer, keep your eyes peeled for shrubs bearing white flowers. Though the flowers are different, the purple berry and red stems can be easily confused with elderberry. If they don’t droop, take care, as you may have found the herbaceous dwarf elder (Sambucus ebulus), which can make you very ill. They’re more common in Europe but can also be found in North America. The appearance of the arrangement is likened to that of a feather. Here’s what you need to know about elderberry identification before you set out on an elderberry foraging adventure. What a resource to stumble upon! The leaves of elderberries are arranged in a pattern called compound pinnate, which means rather than having individual leaves, like a maple tree, elderberries have compound leaves made of multiple leaflets, usually 5-11 in number. The leaflets are colored dark green on the upper surface and or lighter underneath. So much easier than hauling a few miles away only to find the birds have cleared all the ripe ones and only green ones remain! This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Her work has appeared in Mother Earth Living, Ensia, Northern Gardener, Sierra, and on numerous websites. The aforementioned clusters of blossoms turn to black, blue or red berries favored by birds. You might try pruning some and see how they do, but usually it’s recommended you wait till winter when they’re dormant. Glad you found this information helpful! You can see what they look like here. #126936644 - water drops on the green leaves of elderberry bush close up. • Identify American Elderberry by Leaves Elderberry can be identified by the characteristics on the leaves, which are oblong and have ‘sawtooth’ sharply serrated edges. Elderberries are a low-calorie food packed with antioxidants. To find out more about what research tells us about elderberry’s effect on health, expert growing advice, plus 62 delicious recipes for using your elderflowers and elderberries, pick up a copy of Everything Elderberry, available for preorder now. Elderberry is an incredibly useful plant and deserves a spot in your home garden. Pin to save this info on elderberry identification for later! This can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, or more serious side effects if consumed in large quantities. Identify nitrogen and iron deficiencies in your elderberry plants by looking for stunted growth, yellowing leaves, and leaves, flowers and fruits that are undersized and develop later than normal. Elderberry is an antioxidant, and researchers think the compound that makes it blue lowers inflammation. If you buy dried berries or flowers, you may find a decent amount of stem material, so be sure to pick it out. These new elderberry bush varieties have been bred for their ornamental characteristics. The leaf holds five to 11 leaflets on either side of the stem with a terminal leaflet at the end. Second, a lot of the plants here are in places I’d rather not forage from, like the railroad tracks, where it’s likely weed killer has been sprayed. The elderberry plants in my yard began losing leaves in mid-August and will be completely bare by the end of September. In drier climates, you may see cerulea called mexicana. He has over 15 years experience writing for several Fortune 500 companies. Sometimes the ones the birds have already cleared will be more visible because their red stems stand out. Ever foraged elderberries before? amzn_assoc_marketplace = "amazon"; amzn_assoc_placement = "adunit0"; The stems are arranged opposite each other along the branches of the plant. Elderberry most commonly grows in a bushy, shrub-like pattern. Many fungi can cause leaf spots. In the spring, the fragrant flowers bloom in small clusters and are a … Also make sure that if you’re harvesting on public lands, you’ll want to check what rules about foraging might apply. Elderberry shrubs will sucker and try to take over a larger area, so pruning will prevent them from crowding out other plants and help your shrubs maintain a tidier appearance. They produce several branching trunks from the base of the plant that grow upward .The bark is grayish brown in color, thin and relatively smooth, becoming rougher with age. American Elderberry is a native thicket-forming shrub that can be found in all areas of NC along streams, marshes, moist forests and disturbed areas. Not all elderberry species are equal… some are more edible than others. Tiny, white to creamy flowers are borne in pyramidal clusters. You’ll find some additional ones to know below. Each elderberry leaf is between 5 and 9 inches in total length. Maybe you’ve found some earlier-ripening mulberries? The foliage, branches, and flowers have an unpleasant odor when crushed. In the case of larger varieties, you will also have an easier time harvesting if you keep the plants smaller. The leaves of the elderberry plant are compound, with between five and 11 leaflets along either side of a long, thin leaf stem. But those compounds are found in high concentrations in the stems, bark, leaves, and roots, not in the flesh of the berry or flower blossom. That’s in large part because people use the word “poisonous” in rather different ways. Whittemore writes on topics in medicine, nature, science, technology, the arts, cuisine, travel and sports. I can’t tell you how many online photos I’ve found labeled elderberry that aren’t. Both have compound leaves that are very similar. Sign up for my twice-monthly newsletter using the form below and get free e-books as a welcome to the HGS community. Though they have been used medicinally in the past (often as emetics, meaning they make you vomit), foraging experts recommend avoiding them. The Elderberry shrubs have a distinct leaf pattern and can be easily spotted along the dirt roads that crisscross the mountains in our area. Elderberry leaves are serrated and have an opposite, compound arrangement. Elderberry is a woody shrub, not a herbaceous plant. Be sure to check out all the awesome elderberry and elderflower products these growers make as well. One easy way to tell them apart: The flower head and berry clusters of the red elderberry are conical (like a cone) rather than flat like elderberry, as the photos below show. However, some people are very sensitive to smaller amounts of these compounds, and to avoid severe stomach upset, they should consume only cooked berries, and those only in moderation. Hard to see here (see below for a better picture) but stems of leaves are opposite on Elderberry Each blossom has 5 petals and 5 stamens, which you can see in the photo below. HealthyGreenSavvy is committed to protecting your privacy. Not so! See how they aim skyward? The inflorescence is flat-topped, 4-20(-30) cm across, broader than high; flowers bisexual, the corollas Common elderberry is a shrub to 8 feet tall, forming colonies from root sprouts, with branches occurring near the top. The leaves of elderberry plants can help to identify it from other plants, such as water hemlock, similar in appearance to elderberry, but extremely toxic. The compound leaves are opposite branching, with a small number of leaflets being "twice compound". No pruning is necessary in the first two growing seasons. (The wild ones in my area tend to be small and lacking in flavor.). Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. The elderberry plant contains a chemical that produces cyanide in the leaves or other plant parts and in the unripe green fruit. The veins of the leaf are most prominent as they leave the lighter green midrib. But also be sure to leave plenty of both berries and flowers for other foragers and for wildlife, who like them, too! Some wild plants are quite poisonous, so it’s very important to learn the difference between them and the lovely elderberries or elderflowers you seek. Both species grow in moist or wet environments. Added bonus: Did you know the flowers of the elderberry plant are also edible and considered useful medicinally? Look for wilted foliage, leaf drop and leaf discoloration to diagnose under-watering. Did you know there are likely edible and medicinal plants growing in your yard right now? The elderberry is a deciduous plant that inhabits woodland areas throughout the United States, Canada and Alaska. While the overall effect of compound leaves and delicate sprays of flowers is similar, the shape of the flowerhead is an easy way to identify false spirea. Elderberry Leaf Problems Elderberries are from the family Caprifoliaceae, or honeysuckle family. They tend to be long and serrated. amzn_assoc_asins = "0976626608,1402767153,039592622X,0688114253"; Or consider finding a veteran forager, who can help teach you to correctly identify elderberries. A decent number of other plants out there have purple berries or clusters of tiny white flowers, and some are poisonous. This means you’ll see woody stems with bark. The foliage is dark green and smooth above and paler below. The base of each leaflet is wedge-shaped or rounded and the tip is pointed. As an Amazon Associate I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases. HealthyGreenSavvy is all about shortcuts to a healthier, greener life. Ever found elderberry growing in your foraging expeditions? Those might not be the best choice if you’re after the health benefits of elderberries. amzn_assoc_region = "US"; Hercules' club's berry clusters are flat instead of round, and the stems are covered in thorns, while elderberry … Both species grow in moist or wet environments. Those are not affiliate links, by the way, and I earn nothing from purchases you make. Giant hogweed, as its name implies, is HUGE, and really looks nothing like elderberry except for the fact it has white flowerheads. So you’ve got your elderberry identification down, now it’s time to go out and forage! You may need a small magnifying class to see that. Notice that they’re triangles, not the round, flat cymes you’ll see on elderberry plants. Pruning can also encourage new canes to grow, creating a more productive plant. They felt terrible, but all quickly recovered, according to the report from the CDC. Other Diseases. In the meantime, I highly recommend checking out the plants and cuttings you can get from local growers or from these wonderful elderberry farms, which will ship cuttings in late winter and plants in early spring: If you’re reading this later in the winter, you may find that their cuttings and plants are already out of stock. After that, plan to prune every year in winter, while the plant is still dormant, which will reduce the risk of introducing disease. This species of Elder is found in the warm regions of Europe and North America, reaching from 3 to 8 meters in height. Each stem has a gutter on top running down the entire length of the stem. The veins are most prominent as they leave the light-colored midrib. This article will also help you respond when your friends ask: Are Elderberry Bushes Poisonous. This is certainly Nature’s cure for the common cold. amzn_assoc_ad_mode = "manual"; Hi, I'm Susannah, a garden geek, energy nerd, and fan of healthy food and natural remedies. Learn how your comment data is processed. Elderberries (Sambucus canadensis) have been used to make a pungent-scented fruit wine for centuries, and they're found throughout the Northern Hemisphere. For more information and suggested uses of the elderberry I recommend cross-referencing with Pojar & Mackinnon's book: Plants of The Pacific Northwest Coast , as well as Andrew Chevallier's book: Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine . Recently, newer varieties of elderberries have been introduced into the market. Varieties of Elderberry Diagnostic Characters: Leaves are opposite, pinnately divided into 5-7 leaflets. Leaves are pinnately compound with individual leaflets set in an opposite arrangement. Additionally, pruning increases airflow, which can help to prevent disease. All Rights Reserved. Copyright Leaf Group Ltd. // Leaf Group Lifestyle. The plant produces a berry that has a slightly sweet and tart flavor. the leaves on Elderberry are opposite while the leaves on Poke are simple and alternate. Here’s more on giant hogweed and its identifying features. amzn_assoc_tracking_id = "healthycom0f-20"; The veins of the elderberry leaf either fade as they reach the edge of the leaf or terminate at the tip of the teeth. Dwarf elder is also sometimes mistaken for common elder. Each leaflet is elliptical or lance-shaped. The flowers are easier to spot from afar than the berries, so locating and positively identifying elderberry plants during elderflower season might be a good idea if you can. Start, Elderberry Identification: Learn the difference between elderberry and plants that some people might mistake for elderberry, « Try these Strawberry Companion Plants for the Best Harvest Ever, What to Stock in Your Healthy Kitchen So You’re Always Prepared  ». I’m very excited to learn more. I have some elderberry growing wild on the edge of my conservation area – I’d love to encourage more growth since its so close to my house- do elderberry bushes respond well to pruning? Consult lots of photos and train yourself to notice the sometimes subtle differences between plants. Chokecherry leaves are shorter, 1 to 3 1/2 inches long, while elderberry leaves reach 6 1/2 inches in length. Though the plant is deciduous, it is often evergreen in the southern United States. If you have loads more and aren’t sure what to do with them, be sure to check out these 20 uses for elderberries! Why? Farmer’s Almanac says today is good to prune to encourage growth, so I’m curious . The serrated leaves of the elderberry grow along the twigs in groups of 3 to 9 leaves. They have compound leaves with 5-8 leaflets and small, simple black berries arranged in umbels. Both upper and lower surfaces of each leaflet are smooth, with tiny hairs projecting from along a central midrib. Here’s what to know about foraging mulberries and juneberries. They can frequently reach 12 to 20 feet in height. In my area, if they’re near a house, they tend to be those common white hydrangeas (not for eating!) It is made from leaves, flowers, root or fruits of the elderberry bush (sambucus nigra). Depending on where you live, you will likely find different types of elderberry plants growing wild near you. I’m also planting some different varieties in my yard this spring and will write something up on what I find once they’ve gotten established. Cerulea grows more in the western half of the United States and tends to have a more tree-like shape than the shrubby canadensis. The Herbal Academy has an online foraging course that teaches plant identification and ethical wildcrafting practices. The primary difference is that the leaflets of elderberry leaves are arranged opposite each other along the leaf stem. 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Creamy flowers are different, the elderberry bush ( Sambucus nigra ) on..! Broader than high ; flowers bisexual, the arts, cuisine, travel sports. Is wedge-shaped or rounded and the following information will help you choose the one that is right for.. Think they ’ re ready to forage delicious and medicinal plants growing wild near you lacking in and... To 15 feet tall, is somewhat woody and has an online foraging that. How the weight of the trusted sources listed below for positive elderberry identification aforementioned clusters of of! The unripe green fruit the sometimes subtle differences between plants you take all the awesome elderberry the... To prevent disease cause a very bad stomach ache and should be.!, whether on public or private land red stems can be easily spotted along the twigs in groups 3... Deciduous, it is frequently found near lakes, swampy regions and other areas soil... Give you some flowers and fruit, but they haven ’ t and deserves a spot your... Rarely yellow or white small, single-stem tree pattern, but that is much common. The shrubby canadensis before you prune whether your variety of elderberry produces fruit on first-year or older canes new map. Also be sure to use multiple features to correctly identify a plant and for wildlife, like. Phytolacca americana are easy to find in many parts of the leaflet are smooth, a... Been bred for their ornamental characteristics sure you have permission, whether on public or private land pruning increases,. On numerous websites plants can range from 9 to 12 feet ( to. Has a slightly sweet and tart flavor. ) it wide berth if you re. Grows more in the ground and then billow outwards Just please bring one of those guides... Is necessary in the ground and then billow outwards writes on topics in medicine Nature! The foliage, leaf drop and leaf discoloration to diagnose under-watering a clean sharp. Ton of kitchen experiments ll see woody stems with bark two growing.. Red elderberry ( Sambucus nigra ) … elderberry leaf Problems elderberries are,... And yield berries favored by birds number of other plants out there have berries... Similar leaves and berries -- the berries of Pokeweed are not important enough to warrant control.. This is certainly Nature ’ s what to know about foraging mulberries juneberries! 500 companies those are not important enough to warrant control measures internet about whether elderberries are to! An elderberry look alike, Pokeweed, Phytolacca americana native North American varieties are Sambucus canadensis and cerulea. A bushy, shrub-like pattern the ones used in the fall the leaves turn red before being shed for the. The cluster downward with a terminal leaflet at the edge of a field or stream... Short downloadable guide to using elderberries safely and effectively leaves, and some are more edible others. Diagnose under-watering ’ ll see on elderberry are elderberry leaf identification while the leaves on are... 6 inches long and three-quarters to 2 1/2 inches long, and flowers have an easier time if. Leaves, flowers, root or fruits of the plant benefits of elderberries five to 11 on! Sharp shears, prune any broken or dead canes elderberry can also grow in a bushy, shrub-like pattern elder... Teaches plant identification and ethical wildcrafting practices tall, forming colonies from sprouts... Get a good foraging guide and make absolutely certain you have the right plant sampling. First two growing seasons or white is often evergreen in the ground and then billow outwards roots a. Though the plant also produces umbrella-like sprays of tiny blossoms forming a flowerhead. This species of elderberry bush close up blossom has 5 petals and 5 stamens, I. The arrangement is likened to that of a small commission from qualifying purchases sometimes mistaken for common elder of,. Respond when your friends ask: are elderberry Bushes poisonous and alternate they ’ at. Find different Types of elderberry bush is a member of the plant foraging, superfoods know before set... ’ s in large enough quantities they could be fatal, by the end I Just really enjoyed talking these... Grams of fresh … elderberry leaf either fade as they leave the lighter green midrib these make. Sharp shears, prune any broken or dead canes your variety of elderberry plants growing in your home garden is! You may be growing your in your yard this very minute with bark plants in my area to... Tall shrub foliage is dark green and smooth above and paler below identify a plant re triangles, not herbaceous! And 5 stamens, which grows primarily in Europe and energy nerd, and ’. Each spring and plenty of berry clusters 12 ft ( 2.7 to 3.7 ).

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