Biking along the Dogwood Springs Trail in Siloam, through Henry Park I ran across the American Elderberry. Personally, I have never used the fruit though I’ve read enough about it to be familiar with the plant.
According to some old-timers the blossoms are fried as a fritter and the berries after harvesting must be cooked because there are constituents that may be toxic to some people. The fresh fruit is also considered rank when eaten from the bush.
The fruits are high in vitamin C, but according to Edible Wild Plants of North America (field guide), the “roots, stems, leaves, unripe fruits are somewhat toxic.”
I took several photos of the plant, but given that I’m a lazy forager and prefer trail nibble to old-fashioned, time-consuming food preparation I left the bush alone.
For those people who don’t mind the process of preparation, here are a couple of recipes from Foxfire 3:
Elderberry Drink: Cook berries with sugar. Strain and serve cold.
Elderberry Wine: Use five quarts of berries to six quarts of water. Mash the berries and let stand in a crock two weeks, stirring every day. Strain. Add as much sugar as you have juice. Let stand two weeks and then bottle.