What Are Elderberries?

Wild ElderberriesElderberries… what are they exactly? Well, their name has nothing to do with what they really are! Actually, that is something that I am going to have to look into. Why are they called “elderberries”? Their name makes us believe that they are some kind of berry made to be eaten by the “elderly”. All kidding aside, I will most definitely get back to you on that!

Without getting too technical of course, I would like to tell you a little bit about where the elderberry comes from, what its nutritional facts are, and what this wonderful and delicious berry was used for in the past and what it really is used for today. It actually comes from the species of Sambucus berries. It’s a certain “group” of berries to put it more simply.

Even though I totally dislike technical words and definitions, it is my duty as a responsible and loving neighbor, to give you the proper information about this berry that everyone seems to love so much!

Now, if you are on a low calorie diet and by low, I mean 2000 calories or less per day, the Elderberry should be your best friend. Ok, I know, a berry can’t be our friend but you know what I mean, right? I mean that you could be eating tons of it on a daily basis! If you were to only eat this berry for one entire week, you would be ok. Alright, you wouldn’t be able to run a marathon or anything, but at the very least, your body wouldn’t be lacking too many nutrients is more what I meant.  Don’t only take my word for it though. Take a look at the nutritional facts below.

Regardless of their nutritional values, you must still make sure that they are cooked before eating them because when uncooked, they are poisonous. To tell you the truth, this particular type of elderberry, that grows on “Sambucus”, which is the name of its tree and whose real name is “Sambucus Nicra”, is the only variety of elderberry that is considered nontoxic when uncooked.  With that being said, it is still recommended we cook all types of berries before eating them. Better safe than sorry, no? 

Per 100 grams

it has 73 calories per 100 grams (ladies, eat as many as you desire)

it has 18 g of carbohydrates

280 mg of potassium

0.7 g of protein (which is not a lot I have to admit)

7 g of dietary fiber (now that is great)

12% vitamin A

60% vitamin C (0% chance that you are going to get a cold with this berry)

8% iron

10% vitamin B6u

1% magnesium

Source: United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service

As mentioned previously, the Sambucus Nicra is a type of Elderberry.  “Elderberry” is not its only name. It is also known as “Elder”, “Black Elderberry” and “North American Elderberry”.  However, you are totally free to call it whatever you desire! I like to call it “The North American Elderberry”.  It seems more territorial with this name, don’t you think? Even I am getting a little mixed up with all of these names!

Back in the days when doctors used to make house calls, fortunately, this berry was used to heal many illnesses. As we all know, in those days, people would heal themselves with as many natural products that they could get their hands on. Medicine was extremely expensive and many families couldn’t afford it. How sad is that? So, for centuries, the Elderberry has been taken orally to treat illnesses such as heart disease, coughs, cold, flus, for viral infections and even tonsillitis. It has also been used as a topical ointment to treat wounds. For me, it’s like a miracle fruit! But again, be careful. It’s not because it’s a “natural remedy” that it necessarily means that it’s safe.


ElderberryHow to properly identify an Elderberry

I am not sure about you, but as far as I am concerned, my grandfather always told me to NEVER eat anything in the wild. So, it’s important to know where the Elderberry grows and where it is found.  Let’s not get them mistaken by another potent berry like the Water Hemlock. Unfortunately, some people have and have suffered greatly for it.

Most of the time, you will find the Elderberry in the water. They grow all year round on shrubs that have green woody bark with little white dots on them. Their leaves are very green and the veins of those leaves fade out as they reach the edge of the leaf. Their teeth are very fine and pointy. They don’t bite though!



Although we all love to natural remedies, it is extremely important that we know exactly what we are taking/eating. Some of us may be taking medication or other natural products. Unfortunately, not everything is meant to be mixed together. Even though it is proven that Elderberries have few side effects when taken for shorter periods of time, it is recommended that you speak to your doctor before taking it, especially if you are taking another prescribed drug. We don’t want to get sicker than we need to, now do we?


Interesting fact

As I was reading the bible this morning, yes, I make it a habit to always start my days by reading the bible, I came across something really compelling. I learned something today. Actually, I learn something new in the bible every day. Would you believe me if I told you that “Sackbut” is a wind instrument. And “Sackbut” is the Greek version of “Sambuke” and “Sambucus” is what we call the “Elderly tree” as mentioned above. Well, it turns out that its stems, which are hallow, have been used as materials to build wind and stringed instruments for centuries now. Even today, there is actually an instrument called “Elderly flute”. You know what? I just may learn how to play it and surprise everyone one day!


Before I go

Before I go, I would just like to say that there are so many awesome recipes and gift ideas in regards to the Elderberry. Christmas is coming up! Why not make something delicious for someone that you love? I really look forward to telling you all about my creative ideas in my next blog! Thanks for reading me.  Happy Elderberrying!


Hannah Walker


Hannah Walker is a Christian, wife, mother, and writer. She lives in Charleston, South Carolina and loves to learn every day about what it truly means to be a divine homemaker. She and her husband are zelous about living a self sustaining life style that is pleasing to God.

Leave your comment