Editor's Note: This article was taken from the Berry Basket Newsletter, produced by Southwest Missouri State University, Marilyn Odneal, Baytrick Buyers and Gaylord Moore, eds. This newsletter can be accessed at http://mtngrv.smsu.edu.
Elderberries, although somewhat bland to eat fresh, have always been quite a treat when rendered into jam, syrup, or wine. But the native American species, Sambucus Canadensis (Caprifoliaceae, or honeysuckle family), has never reached the mainstream market as have blueberries and strawberries. People who want to enjoy this bush fruit can grow their own, or harvest wild fruit. I have selected a number of websites that will help you learn about the fruit and cultivation methods. [See also, Thomas, Andy (Spring 1999), In Search of a Champion Elderberry. The Berry Basket, 2(1), p. 5.
Elderberries for Home Gardens
http://www.gov.on.ca/OMAFRA/english/crops/facts/95-005.htm This fact sheet was produced by the Ministry of Food and Ag. in Ontario. It addresses the multiple aspects of cultivating elderberries, from planting and propagation, to site preparation and pest control. It is a solid introduction to the species.
Elderberries - Black (American) Elderberry - Sambucus Canadensis, Red (Scarlet) Elderberry - S. pubens
http://www.wvu.edu/~agexten/wildlife/ntvplts/eldrber.htm This site from West Virginia is a botanical key to S. Canadensis and S. pubens. Leaves, twigs, flowers, and form are described for those wanting to go wild elderberry hunting and take cutting, berries, or photographs.
Elderberries [Chapter 11]
http://ssfruit.cas.psu.edu/chapter11/chapter11a.htm This multiple page site is from the Pennsylvania Small Fruit and Production Guide, produced by the Penn State Cooperative Extension. Topics covered include Cultivar Selection, Planting and Fertilization, Pruning, Harvest, Insect Pests, Disease Descriptions, and Pest Management. Although many pages long, the page are quick to load and the information is easy to glean.
Understory Plants for Riparian Forest Buffers
http://www.agnr.umd.edu/MCE/Publications/Publication.cfm?ID=15 This site is included for those who may want to use the elderberry not just for fruit, but for a windscreen or buffer shrub. The table, "Riparian Understory Shrubs," describes the wildlife value and flood tolerance of Sambucus.
Training and Pruning Small Fruit (except grapes)
http://www.hort.wisc.edu/cran/hort375/Small%20fruit%20training.html This site is part of a pomology class taught at the University of Wisconsin. Pruning elderberry is addressed in section II . Bush Fruits. Pruning principles and procedures are described in short sentences, as a student note-take would write. A concise site, but can prove useful.
Originally printed in Virginia Vegetable, Small Fruit and Specialty Crops – January-February 2003.
Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, re-print, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.
Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; Jewel E. Hairston, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State, Petersburg.
July 24, 2009