Black Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) are ripe all across eastern North America right now. This is one of our favorite and more important winter medicines. Elderberries have a long history of supporting health through the cold & flu season. These shrubs are typically found in the wild along the edges of wet areas. Clusters of blue-black berries are bore on umbels (umbrella shaped) clusters from many stemmed bushes that have divided leaves. The birds love elderberries, so once you find a patch you have to act fast.
Black Elderberry is also a common shrub planted in urban and suburban areas. If you live in the city you may just find a neighbour who is happy to have you pick their berries before they make a mess of their yard. Red Elderberries also grow in Ontario but are not edible or medicinal the way the black are. They are easy to tell apart. As the name entails the berries are red and at this point in the season are long gone off the plants.
Elderberries cannot be eaten raw, so they must be cooked before consuming. I make a small batch of jelly every year, but my primary reason for harvesting is for making Elderberry Syrup. You can pick the berries now and then throw them in the freezer for easy destemming later. Here is a simple elderberry syrup recipe from LearningHerbs.com. Want to learn about elderberry in person? See below. We are also able to ship our Elderberry Syrup anywhere in Ontario now. Click here to see ours and order.