A uniquely American fruit familiar to the nation's first inhabitants, traditional uses for elderberries by Indians, who made use of every little part of the plant, included tools crafted from the branches, such as arrow shafts and pipes, as well as the berries. Sometimes propagated as an ornamental shrub, the elderberry bush is a member of the honeysuckle family. It's actually a small tree, with an abundance of delicate white flowers emerging as berry clusters generally between August and October, mostly in cool-to-warm areas of the country, like the Northeastern and Northwestern areas of the US and Canada. This tiny black fruit yields an abundance of juice for its small size, while cooking elderberries for sauce, some may prefer a little extra sweetness. When elderberry hunting, only the blue variety (also identifiable by the white surface coating, similar to blueberries) is good for eating, although they require.
• As a moniker, the term "elder" is derived from the Anglo-Saxon "aeld," meaning fire, because the hollow stems of this plant were used to gently blow on flames to intensify the fire. "Sambucus" is a Greek word meaning "wind instrument."
• Native Americans once used elderberry branches to make flutes, so the tree was sometimes called "the tree of music."
• Elderberry juice was used to treat a flu epidemic in Panama in 1995.
• It was said that to wear or carry Elder wood, leaves, flowers or berries would protect you from attack.
• Elderberry oil or water was used in blessing rituals.
• Elder leaves and branches were often hung in doorways and windows to protect those who lived within.
• Elder planted in the back yard, particularly near the kitchen, provided protection from negative influences and disease.
• Elder flowers were used in a facial wash to lighten and care for the skin.
It was said that if you fell asleep under the elder you would dream of the faerie lands.