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Pacific northwest's native red and blue elderberries

 
gardener
Posts: 2081
Location: Olympia, WA - Zone 8a/b
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I was wondering if anyone had experience harvesting for food or medicine the berries (or other parts of the plant) from either of the 2 elderberries that are native to Western Washington. The 2 types of elderberries are a red elderberry and a blue elderberry.

Blue Elderberry Sambucus nigra ssp. cerulea: http://nativeplantspnw.com/blue-elderberry-sambucus-nigra-ssp-cerulea/

Red Elderberry Sambucus racemosa: http://nativeplantspnw.com/red-elderberry-sambucus-racemosa/

I have both of them growing on my property but I haven't tried to harvest them yet. They grow in very different habitats from each other. The blue grows in fairly dry areas and likes more sun than the red which tends to grow as an understory plant but also along forest edges. The red seems to like more moist conditions.

I planted the blue along some hugelkultur hedgerows that were built along a dirt road on an old gravel parking area. They're doing great there and have grown a ton. I got the reds from my parents forest and so far those I have planted in shadier areas and they're doing okay. But I also have a couple reds that were already growing on my property when I bought it. One is right in a wetland area where the soil stays saturated for most of the fall, winter and spring. The other is growing on a fence line where it gets some shelter from other plants.

Anyways, I was just curious if anyone had experience getting harvests from either of these 2 species of elderberries.

Thanks!
 
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Blue can be used similarly to canadensis - jams, syrups, spirits, etc. for the berries, skin care stuff from leaves and other parts, flowers also great for teas, etc.


 
gardener
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Location: Western Washington
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I've harvested blue. People use them extensively here. Red are toxic I am told, though I hear people fry the flowers as fritters
 
master steward
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Location: Pacific Northwest
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I've eaten the red elderberry flowers and added them to smoothies. The processing they require just has never been worth it to me. I have an amazing amount of red elderberries on my property, but have never found a use for them.
 
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The blue/nigra are amazing medicine, and if you're willing to harvest & process them, they'll bring you some decent change - if you don't decide they're too good to sell, lol. I have to buy them, and have only been able to find them dried. I make syrups and teas with them, using them interchangeably, for cold and flu abatement and immune bolstering. But, the syrup is also just a great topping on pancakes, waffles, or icecream, and the tea is tasty, too.
 
pollinator
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I like using the blue in jelly. You can use other fruits for more juice like apples, plums, and pears. Blue Elderberries are pretty strong and it makes for some good jelly even as a portion of a mix.

I made a couple pies once from berries I dried. They were pretty good, but my grandpa seemed to like them the most. Elderberry apple pie seemed better to most of us but grandpa liked the pie that was straight elderberry.
 
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