Are elderberry worth it for the fruit?

My local nursery had laced up and black lace elderberry. Looking at pictures it is a handsome bush but how edible are they? Specially these two varieties.

Do keep in mind that I loooove chokeberries, processed into syrup it make the best cheesecake in the world.


needs sugar, needs sugar, needs sugar, needs sugar, needs sugar, needs sugar, needs sugar, and then it needs even more sugar,


i like sugar, nothing wrong with that :smiley:

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I make elderberry syrup…cover berries in water, boil, strain, bring juice back to boil with cinnamon sticks and a few cloves, then mix juice 3:1 with honey, pour off into jars and seal.


how’s the fruit quality between varieties? Are there more ornamental varieties that are less edible than others?

Ive mostly just harvested wild natives. Planted a half dozen named selections several years ago. Not much production yet; increased berry size, I guess, but I don’t know that flavor is any different., much less better.

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Elderberry jelly is A+


The birds get all my fruit so I make a syrup from the flowers. It’s unlike any other flavor I’ve tasted before. Goes great with pastries and breakfast cakes.


I guess it depends on which “zone 4” you are in. I’m in AK and had those varieties you mentioned, as well as a few other European varieties and a few of the American cultivars.

The American ones all died. The European ones technically survived, but seems they had a lot of winter kill and were really struggling to come out of dormancy. For comparison, my gooseberries and honeyberries and saskatoons were already leafed out and flowering while the elderberry continued to look like a dead stick with just a few little signs of leaf life. I dug them out and gave to another plant addict to try and replaced with honeyberries.

Our summers are so short I seriously doubt the fruit would ripen in time. If you have a longer summer you might be in luck. I saw an older thread on here where the poster was in zone 4 Quebec and the elderberry looked great.

Steve sent me a Maine elderberry cutting. I am hoping it is hardier and better suited for this climate. If you search around the web you will see many people complain about elderberries not ripening in short summer cold climates. If Steve’s elderberry doesn’t perform, I will write off elderberry as a viable plant.

I might suggest you try Aronia as well. It has health benefits that rival the elderberry, and it is very cold hardy. The fruit probably tastes about as bad as an elderberry so you wouldn’t be missing anything there.


I recently tried store bought elderberry jelly and am excited that I decided to propagate about 8 bushes around my house from wild cuttings. I have one bush of bearing age and look forward to the first jar(s) of jelly. It’s basically like a more flavorful grape jelly for the one I’ve tried.


No it doesn’t remind me of grape jelly. Dewberry jelly. maybe.

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I just replaced the chokeberry that I planted in 2018 and did not make it to 2019. It was one of those nursery plants from the lower 48 that may have the potential to be hardy, if they don’t have a heart attack the first winter here :-\ A friend was eliminating several bushes and gave me a Viking. It is a bit lanky but once it bushes up i’ll propagate it.

Where are you at? I’m smack in between Palmer and Wasilla.

I have two Viking and them have done quite well. I think it was November and I was still eating berries off the plants (they were getting a little soft / past their prime). The birds left them alone. I think moose will eat them if you don’t leave them behind a fence. I bought a Polish / Russian Aronia from Berries Unlimited. Will see how it does. I’d like to get a McKenzie Aronia- it’s supposed to get huge.

I’m in Anchorage.

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They’re toxin-inducing when raw. So if you mean how edible when raw, the answer is ‘they’re not’. They’re good processed into jelly. The real question to me is, is worth the effort? Here, if I don’t net them, the birds will decimate them. Harvesting is easy, but removing the thousands of berries from the stems takes a lot of time. If you make it that far, make sure you have a good food strainer ready, with the smallest screen. That makes that step easy, at least. They’re very disease and pest free here it seems like, which is a big plus.


Black Lace is ornamental. It’s really nice looking. I never seen any fruit on mine. I have had it about five years. I had some production euros and man did they produce. I didn’t care for the flavor though and removed them.

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ive tried all the elderberries here. same problem. not enough time to ripen the berries but that wild one from the Allagash ripens to a nice black/ purple. not a heavy producer like the commercial varieties but at least it ripens before frost kills it. if you planted a row of them, you’d be all set for elderberry for the winter.

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i have a polish cultivar. something like galianka. its about 2 ft bigger and wider than my viking and man does it
produce berries! its 7ft tall and 6ft wide. i gave them a good pruning last year and this spring its loaded with berries. never been fertilized. just mulched with wood chips.

if you freeze the cymes then bang them on the sides of a 5 gal pail they arent bad to clean.


I have a friend that makes wine from his grapes. He also made “wine” from all kinds of other fruit. He told me elderberry and grapes where the only ones that stood out to him taste wise.

I quite enjoy the elderberry jam etc. Needs loads of sugar.

I’m a massive fan of the blossom though. I pick them. lay them flat on a table in a dark room. With a desk light next to it. A day later the bugs all crawled to the light, and the petals release from the flowerhead. I put those flower petals in some water (with a little citric acid if warm or if im busy and might leave them in to long). Then i sieve the flower petals and stalks out, add sugar and some more citric acid. Boil it, bottle it. Should keep for years. And is amazing syrup. Tastes reminiscent of lychee’s to me somehow.

The raw flowers and berries contain some cyanide. This sounds scary, but so do apple pits. And almonds. The main thing to consider is dose. I could not find reliable data on the amount of cyanide compound in elderberries. But i’d boil them just to be sure.

It’s about flax seed, but he goes into cyanide in food.

I think elderberries or blossom are also mildly diuretic. Which can be nice if you suffer from arthritis or a disease where fluid’s build up. But could also be problematic in some cases. If you have a disease that would be impacted by that id probably limit my consumption of elderberries/blossom.


I have eaten small amounts (half a handful) of ripe elderberry fruit with no I’ll effects at all… but I will likely never eat much raw well… because they just do not taste that good.

I have seen youtubers report that eating larger quantity… like half a cup or more raw… may well make you nauseous or even toss your cookies … barf. :wink:

The dude from burnt ridge in the vid above says he has been eating them fresh for 37 years… with no I’ll effect…

I mostly harvest mine and freeze them in half pint or pint jars… vacuum sealed… and use them to make elderberry syrup over winter or spring months… as needed.

Many… MANY times… we have experienced those early feelings of sickness coming on… and the earlier you can notice that… the better. Make up a batch of elderberry syrup and start taking it. In just a few days those bad symptoms… sore throat, headache, fever, etc… they just fade away.

Ps… I make a lower carb version of elderberry syrup using only a couple tablespoons of raw honey for sweetner.
Just enough to take the edge off.

Lots of sugar is the worst thing you could be eating if you are wanting your body to recover from illness.