Black Elderberry Scientific name:Sambucus nigra
The flowers and fruits contain a mildly poisonous alkaloid that is destroyed by cooking.
Compound pinnate leaves, dark green in colour. Each leaf is 5–30cm long and the leaflets have serrated margins. The flowers are small, white and 5–6mm in diameter, appearing in a flat-topped cluster in late spring to summer. They are hermaphroditic (have both male and female parts). The fruit is a glossy, dark purple to black berry, 3–5 mm diameter, produced in drooping clusters in late autumn.It is widely cultivated for its fruits and as a medicinal plant.
Black Elderberry Culinary Uses
The dark purple berries can be eaten when fully ripe (cook the berries first – do not eat it raw, as it can cause nausea and diarrhea) and is also used to make jam, jelly and chutney.
Black Elderberry Medicinal Benefits
The leaves, flowers, fruits and root extracts are used to treat bronchitis, coughs, upper respiratory infections and fever. A study in mice determined that concentrated elderberry juice suppressed influenza virus replication and stimulated immune system response. In a review of 4 studies in 180 people, elderberry supplements were found to substantially reduce upper respiratory symptoms caused by viral infections.
How to grow Black Elderberry from seed
The seeds need to be planted in autumn, or chilled for 3 months before germination will occur. Elderberry seeds need the coldness of winter or stratification before they will germinate.
Fill a seedling tray with potting soil, leaving the top 1 inch of space free of soil. Tamp the soil down slightly and add more if needed to maintain the correct level. Fill the tray slowly with water from a watering can. Allow the excess water to drain through the tray’s bottom drainage holes. Add water a second time to ensure that the soil is evenly moist.
Remove the bag containing the seeds from the refrigerator.
Sow the seeds in the tray, spacing them 2 inches apart from each other. Sprinkle a 1/4-inch layer of potting soil over the top of the seeds. Mist over the top layer of soil with water from a spray bottle to moisten the additional soil. Place a clear plastic cover over the top of the tray.
Choose a room with a constant temperature between 72 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Set a heating mat on a flat surface that receives bright, indirect sunlight and is located away from heating or cooling vents. Set the mat’s temperature settings to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the seedling tray on top of the mat.
Check the tray every three to four days for signs of moisture loss. Remove the cover, and mist the soil’s surface when the top 1/4 inch begins to dry. Water the soil to keep it moist. Do not allow the soil to become soggy.
Watch for signs of germination four to six months from the planting date. Remove the cover once the majority of seeds germinate. Take the tray off the heating mat and place it in direct sunlight. Water the seedlings when the top 1 inch of soil becomes dry.
Apply a 10-10-10 nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium water-soluble fertilizer every 10 to 14 days. Mix 1/2 teaspoon fertilizer with 1 gallon water. Administer the fertilizer in place of a watering.
Transplant the Black Elderberry seedlings into individual 6-inch pots when they reach 3 to 5 inches in height. Fill the pots three-quarters full of potting soil. Dig a seedling out of the tray carefully with a trowel. Place the seedling in the center of a pot, spreading its roots outward. Add soil to the pot, tamping it down slightly around the roots. Do not overfill the pot or plant the seedling deeper than it was previously growing. Fill the pot one to two times with water to moisten the soil completely. Place the pot in a 70 to 75 degree Fahrenheit room in direct sunlight.
Information is for educational and informational purposes only and may not be construed as medical advice. The information is not intended to replace medical advice or treatment offered by healthcare professionals.