Elderberries (Sambucus species) Here is a plant that is finally getting the attention it deserves, It was designated as ‘Herb of the Year’ for 2013, but has been used medicinally for hundreds of years! Because this single plant has so many uses, it has been referred to by herbalists as ‘Nature’s Medicine Chest’ and the ‘Countryman’s Apothecary’. Numerous new scientific studies are now verifying the benefits that previous generations have observed. Not only is elderberry juice extremely high in antioxidants (14,500 on the ORAC scale, compared with blackberries at 5347 or sweet cherries at 3365) the particular antioxidants found in elderberries have a proven antiviral effect. If your space is limited, this is the one plant we don’t want you to be without! Fortunately it is also the easiest one to grow organically. Although the humble elderberry is generally not considered a fresh eating fruit, it has multiple medicinal uses (both the flowers and the fruit) as well as baking, preserving and processing. Bareroot plants
Photo courtesy of T. MacIntosh

Elderberry : MARGE 2 year old plant


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(Sambucus nigra x S. canadenis)
Commercial growers everywhere are starting to extol the virtues of this new introduction named after Marge Millican of Wyldewood Cellars Winery in Molvane, Kansas. It seems to combine the best of both worlds with better adaptability and hardiness than the Europeans as well as higher levels of immune boosting anthocyanins than the North Americans. The heavy producing bush is extremely vigorous, yet relatively compact. It is non-suckering with an upright growth pattern and proven resistance to mites and leaf blight. Last but not least Marge is completely self-fertile. In short, a real winner!



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Growing Tips

Elderberries Growing Tip

S. canadensis (North American) elder plants grow fruit on new, first year's growth, as well as on older wood. Some commercial growers cut them down to the ground every fall for quick, easy pruning. This should not be done on S. nigra (European) varieties, including Marge, as these bear their fruit on the second year's growth of wood. However, all elders can also be pruned by just removing some of the oldest branches every year after the plants are mature.