Elderberry – Sambucus nigra

Elderberry – Sambucus nigra
Elderberry – Sambucus nigra

All parts of the elderberry are considered healing and therefore of value. The flowers contain tannins, leading to their use for diarrhea, congestion and to help control bleeding. Used as an infusion, the flowers and leaves can be used for an external wash for wounds, sprains, and bruises, as well as for sores on domestic animals. The berry made into a salve is used to treat burns and scalds.

The berries are edible and can be used to make jam, syrup, wine, and pies. The berries can be dried for later use, and can be eaten cooked or raw. The berries still serve as a main source of food for many Native peoples.

The wood is hard and has been used for combs, spindles, and pegs, and the hollow stems have been fashioned into flutes and blowguns. A dye is obtained from the fruit and the bark. The bark of older branches and the root have been used as an ingredient in dyeing black. A green dye is obtained from the leaves when alum is used as a mordant. The berries yield various shades of blue and purple dyes. They have also been used as a hair dye, turning the hair black. The blue coloring matter from the fruit can be used as a litmus to test if something is acid or alkaline. It turns green in an alkaline solution and red in an acid solution.

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