We moved into this house 2 years ago next month. The wife of the couple that lived here before us loved her plants. She planted all kinds of things in the 1/2 acre backyard. I am still discovering the good and the bad that is growing here.
There was this plant that was growing at the back of the yard. My 9 year old ran up to me and said, “Mom, there are tons of elderberries in the backyard. Can I pick them.” I went out and the berries looked similar to me. I didn’t know enough about what the berries should look like and we picked them. We didn’t eat any because I wanted to double check that they were elderberries before we eat them. To our dismay, they were not elderberries. They were pokeberries from a pokeweed.
Elderberry bush, though it looks similar has very different berry branch look and the berries are much smaller. They are both purple and round but that is really the only similarities. Now, lets see what the good and bad of each of them are.
Poke berries are toxic. Birds love them and can eat them with no issues but they are toxic to humans. The leaves, before the plant is mature and the branches turn red, have been used for medicinal purposed by Native &/or African Americans historically. Not many use them today as it is very necessary to make sure the plant has not reached maturity and that it is properly prepared.
Elderberries, however, are very good for you. The berry and the flowers are very nutritious. They are a wonderful supply of antioxidant and immune support. The bark can be used as a natural laxative if needed. Elderberries cannot be eaten raw or they are toxic. They will give you cyanide poisoning. When cooked properly, is considered a super food. It is high in Vitamins C, B6 and Iron. The most common way to ingest elderberries is in syrup form.
Here is a recipe for elderberry syrup that is super simple and uses an instant pot. Do you love the instant pot like I do?
I learned this lesson so I decided to pass it on as well. Do you use elderberry syrup? Do you have the pesky poke weed and found a way to get rid of it? Share in the comments!