Jun. 7, 2017


Great aunt Grace's husband, Charles, had retired as manager of the Ohio Agricultural Research and DEvelopment Center.  We had some good conversations and a visit to that facility.  We may have seen elder.  I know we saw some very interesting stuff.  And elder is interesting.  Few, if any, plants have had more uses.  The Native American Ethnobotany Database lists 288 items.  They, and the pioneers that followed, ate it, used it for medicine, and used the wood for implements.  Among the myriad medicinal uses were rheumatism and skin problems.  Maybe I'll start eating it again.  The flowers, as well as the berries, were eaten.  One way to eat the flowers was to dip the whole flowering head in batter, and fry it.  The twigs have a soft pith, and can easily be hollowed, making pipes and pea shooters (not as easy as joe pye weed, but they last longer).  The leaves are very smelly, and were tied to horses manes to keep flies away.

Sambucus nigra is now often united with the Eurasian plants, in which case it would be S. nigra.  Southern plants, such as the one pictured, were previously separated as S. simpsonii.  In its various forms, it grows south into Mexico and the Caribbean, and across Eurasia.