Correct Identification of the Black Elderberry.
This type of elderberry is a species native to a large area of North America east of the Rocky Mountains, and south through eastern Mexico and Central America to Panama. It can grow in a variety of conditions including both wet and dry soils, primarily in sunny locations. The easiest time for elderberry identification is when the plants are in bloom, usually in very early June. Look for the huge white flower clusters. If you miss this blooming stage and want to make an elderberry identification look for some of these other characteristics below
• Elderberry Identification ~ Stems and Branches
The elderberry plant will have green stems on the upper and gray or light tan bark on plant stems older than a year. If you look closely at the woody stems you will notice tiny bumps. An elderberry plant older than a year should have several branches coming from near the base.
• Elderberry Identification ~ Leaves
Elderberry leaves are oblong and have ‘sawtooth’ sharply serrated edges. They are arranged in opposite pairs with 5 to 7 leaves on each stem. The veins of the leaf are most prominent as they leave the lighter green midrib. The veins tend to fade off and narrow as they reach the edge of the leaf and there is NOT the noticeable characteristic of the vein ending in the valley of the sawtooth edges.
• Elderberry Identification ~ Flowers
Elderberry identification is easiest in the flower stage. The elderberry plant produces a flattened cluster up to 10 inches in diameter of tiny creamy white flowers. The flowers have rounded tipped petals and there are five. There will typically also be 5 thin white filament tubes arising from near the center of the flower and ending in a pale yellow anther tip although it is often common to see 3 or 4. The flowers bloom in late spring.
• Elderberry Identification ~ Berries
Elderberry berries start out as flowers then change from green into deep purple/ blackish berries when ripe. The berries are about 1/8th of an inch in diameter or the size of a BB. The tip of the rounded berry will have a bump where it was formed from the flower. The taste is a bit tart and they are not to be eaten RAW, more than a few can make you nauseous. Berries grow in a flat cluster up to 10 inches in diameter. Elderberries are easily confused with other berries which may be poisonous always make sure what you think is an elderberry IS an elderberry plant and always cook elderberries before consuming.