Blue Elderberry (Sambucus cerulea)

Other common names (blue elderberry and blue elderWhere you usually find it

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Elderberries are one of the most beneficial berries out there in our local wilderness. They are a strong antioxidant and both the flowers and the berries can be used to improve our health and prevent the flu.

This plant is a good one to learn about and to harvest each year. We have both red and blue elderberries in Utah and both are valuable and edible. Some have stated they have stomach issues when eating a lot of the red berry seeds but I have not yet experienced any such symptom.

There is a lot of misinformation about Elderberries out there. Big pharma wants you to believe they are poisonous. There are plenty of articles out there that are meant to scare people away from natural remedies like Elderberry and push toward the flu vaccine. They use scary words like Poisonous and Cyanide to get you to believe more in drugs than in nature for remedies. If you do the research, however, you will find millions of deaths from the drugs and vaccines and absolutely zero fatalities from Sambucus or elderberry.

Elderberry Uses

Elderberries are a food. They are also great medicine. They can be eaten raw, in pancakes and waffles, pies, make syrup or jam and in tinctures. They are a high antioxidant berry that are specifically helpful for fighting off or avoiding the flu or similar sicknesses.

Contrary to much of what you might read when researching elderberry, the leaves offer a similar medicinal effect as the berries and flowers. They can be dried and saved for use in an infusion when needed.

The berries can be frozen, freeze-dried or dehydrated for preservation. I have used them both dried (dehydrated) and frozen to make syrup.

The flowers can be used to make a valuable tincture. Just keep in mind that if you take the flowers, you will not have berries later. When harvesting flowers for tinctures, harvest early a soon as you see the plants flowering and harvest only a few flowers from each plant. This will leave flowers to grow into berries later and will help the plants create larger fruit.


Elderberry has been used for food and medicine for thousands of years.


One of the easiest ways to ID the elderberry for certain is to cut open a branch and look for the pith in the center. All Elderberry trees will have this soft pith in the center of the branches. When you think you are looking at an elderberry cut one open and you will be able to identify it for certain. There are a couple other identifying traits you should look for as well.

Compound leaves

Elderberry trees have compound leaves with leaflets. this is another easy way to identify this plant.

Blossoms (elderberry umbel)

Finally let’s look at the blossom and berry umbel. This is another distinction of the elderberry tree. While it is not the only tree that offers it’s berries this way, it is one more identifier that will help.


Some people will be more sensitive to Elderberry than others. Black or blue elderberry can have an emetic effect for some when eaten raw and possibly even in a tincture form. This effect is often referred to as “poisoning” but the reality is that Elderberry is a strong herb to remove toxins from the body.

In my opinion, I think it is likely that if a study were ever to be done on such symptoms we would find that those who feel the emetic effects have specific toxins that the body is trying to get rid of and the elderberry is helping with that.

There are absolutely zero fatalities documented anywhere from taking elderberry in any form.



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