American Elderberry Tree
days to maturity:
plant spacing: 1 plant every 8 feet
sunlight requirements: 8-14 hours
look out for: elder shoot borer and aphids
harvest notes: prune to keep at harvestable height
Syrup made from the dark purple elderberry has long been popular as a folk remedy for colds with good reason. Compared to other small fruits, elderberries have some of the highest levels of antioxidants and are especially rich in vitamin C. While the berries themselves aren’t especially sweet, the syrup can be and is often used as flavoring in addition to medicine. Elderflowers are warmly fragrant and their naturally occurring yeast makes them well-suited for fermentation into sparkling wine. The flowers can also be brewed into a cordial by combining several handfuls of flowers with equal parts sugar and water, lemon juice and lemon zest. After boiling, allow the mixture to rest for several days before straining, then refrigerate. When harvesting elderflowers, collect them in the morning when they’re most fragrant, making sure to leave more than half of the flowers on the tree so they can mature into clusters of berries. Be careful planting this tree in your yard as it can become invasive and spreads via root suckering. If planted along a low lying or moist border it will proliferate aggressively.