top of page

Elderberry: What You Probably Didn't Know

You may already know that elderberries are all about being healthy. They are healthy for humans, animals and even the soil!

The colorful elderberry packs powerful antioxidants that boosts the immune system and relieves flu-like symptoms. While it's not a miracle cure, the berry is rich in healthful flavoniods, especially anthocyanins that create the elderberry’s dark coloring.

Elderberries provide beta carotene, which converts to vitamin A in the body, meeting about 6% of your daily total. This vitamin can help you combat free radicals that damage your skin, heart, and lungs. In addition, vitamin A aids in fighting inflammation, which can interfere with the proper functioning of cells and muscles.

Did you know that elderberries:

- Fight the flu and colds in humans?

- Fight the bird flu and coccidia in chickens?

- Provide the soil with good nutrients?

It's a powerhouse berry full of benefits! But before you go out to buy some, read on.


Did you know that 95% of the elderberry products sold in the United States are imported from Europe? European Elderberries are NOT the same as American Elderberries. European Elderberries have a higher quantity of naturally occuring precursors of cyanide in them. Cyanide is a very poisonous compound consisting of carbon and nitrogen with either sodium or potassium. This is why you may have heard that elderberries must be boiled completely before eating.

You might wonder, why does America import most of our elderberries when they are easy to grow right here? The answer is this: Because the U.S. farmers haven't taken it up to develop it into a commercial crop. But the good news is, elderberry growing is slowly becoming popular here in the States. And here in the Midwest is the very best place to grow them! But they can grow in every state in America, including Hawaii and Alaska. Did you know that our state of Missouri grows 50% of our nations berries currently? That's great news!

But for now, if you must purchase elderberry products in stores be sure to look for "American Elderberries" on the label as they are far superior; they don't have the precursor of cyanide in them. This means they do not have to be cooked as much so you can keep more of the nutrition in the products. You can be sure that if the ingredients include American Elderberries, they will put it on the label because they are proud of the fact, knowing it is a superior berry.


While this might not be an option for everyone, you could consider growing your own elderberries!

Elderberry plants are hardy perennials that typically bear a small harvest after the second year of planting and are fully mature and have a 10-12 pound harvest by the third year. Recommended growing zones are 3-8 but every state in the U.S. is able to grow elderberries.

Growing the elderberry plant can be done from seed or from cutting. Plants from cuttings are preferred because an elderberry plant from seed will not have the exact characteristics as the mother plant. This can be a problem if you want disease resistance, uniform berry or cluster size, or condensed harvest times. Elderberry cuttings will produce the same characteristics as the plant that it was taken from. There are many new varieties of elderberry that are more suited to the Midwest than older ones and much better than wild elderberry plants.


We now have cuttings available to purchase from our farm beginning in late February to early March. We grow American Elderberries and if you are interested in starting some of your own, contact us to get some cuttings. Below are steps for how to grow them!