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Natural Highlights: Elderberry

 

   

    

American Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) is so common and assertive in these parts that many people consider it a weed and kill it without thinking.  In the right situation, however, and especially in a natural area, this spreading shrub provides multiple benefits both to humans and wildlife. The blackish berries are consumed by numerous birds and mammals. They are inedible and mildly toxic to people when raw, but can be made into pies, jellies, and wine if prepared correctly.  All other parts of the plant are also considered mildly toxic, though some people use the plant medicinally.  The large cream-colored cluster of flowers are attractive and fragrant, providing pollen to a host of insects; the stems and leaves feed many more, and provide important nesting habitat for a number of native bee species.  Allowed to grow to its full glory, from 5 to 12 feet tall, elderberry can make a good screen or hedge, or a graceful specimen in a garden. Whether its in the home landscape, or in the many places where it grows wild,  our native American Elderberry has a vital role to play in our local ecology.  To learn more about this plant, please visit the following links:

http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/trees/plants/cm_elder.htm

http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=f470

https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=sanic4

 

Posted by Cathy Justis at 9:47 PM