What is elderberry?

Elderberry can be used to treat cough.

An elderberry, or sambucus, is a deciduous fruiting shrub with at least 30 known species, most commonly found in the northern hemisphere. The elderberry bush usually grows to about 10 feet (3 meters) tall and shows yellow and white flowers in early summer, followed by deep blue or black berries that usually ripen around September. The berries are edible when ripe and have long been believed to have medicinal properties.

Elderberry extracts can be found in many throat lozenges.

Ripened elderberry can be used like other fruits in fruit pies, muffins and jellies. Dried flowers can also be soaked in water to make elderberry tea and crushed berries to make elderberry juice. The fresh berries of the elderberry bush can be used in all the ways other berries are used, including as a topping for pancakes or ice cream, in cobblers, or simply eaten fresh.

Elderberry is often used as a topping on pancakes.

In addition to jams, jellies, teas and fruit tarts, elderberry juice is also used in winemaking. Elderberry wine is described as exceptionally rich by many and is quite common in the United States and Europe. It can also be found in sherry and cognac.

As an herbal remedy, elderberry is believed to have therapeutic uses as an anti-inflammatory, diuretic, and immunostimulant. When measured nutritionally in comparison to other fruits, elderberries contain high concentrations of vitamins A and C and potassium. Medications that contain elderberry include throat lozenges and cough syrup.

Elderberry can be found in cough syrups.

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Some grocery stores and many farmers markets and fruit stands sell elderberry. If you choose to grow your own elderberry bush, it will be reasonably easy to grow compared to all other fruit trees. They prefer the sun, but tolerate a moderate amount of shade.

Elderberry needs well-draining organic soil and space to grow to at least 10 feet (3 meters) tall. Harvesting should take place when the fruits are fully ripe, but it cannot be left too long, as the birds will eat them. Check your local nursery or garden center to purchase an elderberry bush to plant. They can be ordered especially if there isn’t a retailer in your area that sells them.

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