Sunday, October 04, 2015

Red Elderberry / Druehyld

Sambucus racemosa

Red Elderberry is native to Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The whole plant is poisonous to people, also the tempting red berries. Other common names for Red Elderberry are Scarlet Elder, Mountain Elder, Stinking Elder, Bore Tree etc.

The name Sambucus is from Greek sambuca = a stringed instrument supposed to have been made from elder wood, and racemosa comes from the Latin racemus, the stalk of or a cluster of a bunch of grapes "with racemes". The flowers are greenish-white,the berries bright red and round, the marrow is brown in contrast to common elder which has white marrow.

The plant provides valuable nesting and perching habitat for birds - and the berries provide food for many species of birds - in Denmark especially blackbird, thrush and songbirds. The berries are also food for deer, squirrels, foxes and mice.

The wood is hard and has been used for combs, spindles, pegs, pipestems, flutes, toy whistles. Medical use has been made of all parts. Dyes can be made from the bark, fruit and stems, and an insecticide from the dried leaves.

Red Elderberry is useful in stabilizing soil and controlling erosion on moist sites.

Poisonous substance:
All kinds of Sambucus contain a poisonous substance:Samburigin (cyanoglykocid) in leaves and in the unripe fruits. The druehyld is the most poisonous but its poisonous effect is limited to stomachache. In the past the sambucus was used  as a vomiting means . The seeds in all sambucus contain  a resin which gives dizziness and is diuretic , but the resin is destroyed by cooking. ( see wikipedia for more information)

text and photo : grethe bachmann

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