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  • Photo du rédacteurOlivier Clamaron

Black elder: one of the oldest and most powerful medicinal plant

Dernière mise à jour : 26 nov. 2023


I hope you are doing well.

Post n° 134

The black elderberry is one of the oldest medicinal plants, since in Switzerland and northern Italy, remains have been found on sites dating from the Bronze Age.

“The main countries where elderberry is commercially exploited for its flowers and berries are in North America: the USA, Canada and Quebec.

In Europe, the biggest elderberry producers are Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Romania, the Baltic countries and most of the Eastern countries. It is exploited either in wild harvest or on industrial orchards. It is also traditional to use it in different forms in many Eastern and Northern countries (Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, England, Scotland, Ireland, ...).

The inhabitants of these regions have the culture and habit of consuming the flowers in lemonade (called Socata in Romania) or donuts and the berries in juice, jellies or jams. There are also varieties of elderberry in Asia (Japan, Korea, Nepal, ...) and a little in North Africa. ​

In France, its use was largely lost when it was sacred and at the heart of Celtic culture, very present until the Middle Ages, and it retains a bad reputation for erroneous toxicity, because it is confused with the only toxic variety out of the 150 that exist in the world, the ebulus elderberry. (see below ).

Like most plants with very many and powerful medicinal properties, elderberry was then considered a sacred plant for the Celts and other ancient cultures: of protection, prosperity, as a symbol of Mother Earth, in connection with the spirits of nature and a representation of the wife of the god Pan, the god of nature, the forest and animals.

It also represented a link between life, death and rebirth, probably thanks to its rapid growth, its longevity up to 100 years. Indeed, it crashes and regenerates easily.

Its cultivation is being redeveloped in France, however, with orchards of several thousand feet, for example, at the Maison du Sureau, to which I put the link here. There are also a large number of articles and scientific research about black elderberry.

In the Jardin des Plantes in Paris: we can read: " Common in Europe, except in the Mediterranean, it appreciates humidity in the woods, hedges, edges of paths and streams. birds feed on its fruits rich in vitamins A, B and C, flavonoids, tannins, carotenoids and amino acids.

The flowers are nectariferous and melliferous. A biological insecticide can be obtained from its leaves. ". With its hollow and soft wood, wind instruments, flutes and whistles were made.

Elderflowers and berries have many medicinal properties, already highlighted by the Greek doctors Hippocrates, Galen and Theophrastus, against inflammation of the mucous membranes and excess mucus: anti-inflammatory, laxative, purgative, analgesic, rich in antioxidants, they are deemed diuretics, act against water retention, edema, angina, flu, laryngitis, fever, burns, arthritis and rheumatism. They thin the bronchial secretions, are immunostimulants, antibacterial, antiviral, their juice promotes vitality and regeneration and would have antitumor effects.

Elderberry also helps heart health, lowers cholesterol and is also said to have anti-diabetic properties, thanks to its anthocyanins, which stimulate glucose metabolism and promote insulin secretion. In the Middle Ages, flowers and fruits were used to make refreshing drinks and in spring, in order to purify the body of toxins accumulated during the winter, they were drunk in large quantities. The decoctions and slurries of leaves repel insects and rodents. ​

Recent research shows that elderberries, with 1700mg per 100g. contain more than twice as many antioxidant anthocyanins as blueberries, blackberries, cranberries or blackcurrants. Only goji berries do better.

SAMBUCUS ebulus : the toxic exeption

There are more than 150 varieties of elderberry, including the ebulus elderberry, which is the only variety that is poisonous. It is therefore prudent to know the differences between the good and the bad elderberry that we find in our countryside.

Yeble elderberry (Sambucus ebulus) is toxic due to its very powerful emetic and laxative properties. The elderberry is a rhizomic herbaceous, which gives a single stem and then a cluster whose fruits have a very bitter taste and its smell is very unpleasant in late autumn when this herbaceous rots.

In comparison, the black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is a shrub or a tree. Yeble elderflowers have pinkish anthers, while black elderflowers are more white/creamy. The elder yèble often proliferates in "family" on the edge of the roads and in the wet ditches next to intensive agriculture.

The elderberry is a plant bio-indicator of wet soils engorged with nitrogen, but which, unlike the black elderberry, is in the nitrification phase. Yèble elderberry is therefore commonly found along small streams and ditches in humid and cool agricultural areas where intensive, chemical agriculture is practiced with nitrogenous inputs, with plowing and heavy machinery that compacts the soil and pollutes the water. .

Yeble elderberry indicates soils polluted with nitrates. It is a threshold plant which indicates the need to reactivate the aerobic soil through microbial life.

The ebulus elderberry is easy to recognize The berries of the elderberry in clusters are always erect towards the sky at the top of the stem while the berries of the black elderberry are leaning towards the ground when ripe. In addition, the elderberry has a late bloom at the end of June-July and is a small plant of only 0.70 m to 1.50 m in height which disappears in winter. It has the same habitat as the black elderberry but the latter is a very leafy shrub or tree 4 to 5 m high (sometimes more) which keeps its wood in winter and flowers in May-June.

Medicinal plants, and connections with natural magnetism and positive energies are some of my main passions.

Each day going by, i am amazed by the generosity of nature, of Mother Earth and of the other living species.

Each day, i am amazed by the might of nature, and plants, which are transmuting sun light into vital energy.

Many medicinal plants have so many different active principles that they act as polytherapy with high curing and healing potential.

On my site, more than 200 different plants are described in french alphabetical order, in bilingual french english text.

Thanks. Namaste

"western plants " Letter A

Letters B-D

Letters E-L

Letters M-Q

Letters R-Z

"tropical" plants Letters A-B




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