E is for Elderberry

Elderberry, as Ms. Flora likes to say, is a familiar old plant that the Native Americans and colonists used for medicinal purposes. Some of you humans even claim the syrup or wine of elderberries treats rheumatism, colds and flu. We squirrels just think they taste good when they have ripened to purple (We don’t have a photo of them ripe!)

In some countries, the elder tree grows quite large, but in North America, the Common Elderberry, Sambucus canadensis, grows to a large shrub, 12 feet high. It likes a rich, wet soil, such as along streams.

It blooms in May and June, with the berries ripening in August.

Like with the Devil’s Walkingstick, the bees and other pollinators spend less energy collecting on flower clusters, so return to elderberry again and again.


Purchase plants and seeds from a known source that does not use pesticides / insecticides, particularly neonicotinoids. They are not safe for honeybees and native bees. Watch this bee researcher’s Ted Talk to learn more about bees, why they are dying and how you can help:

Marla Spivak: Why Bees Are Disappearing


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