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Red Elderberry Attracts Wildlife Year Round

The pollinated and fertilized white flowers of Red Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa) have recently developed into the red fruit for which this plant is named. Many people are familiar with its relative, Common Elderberry (S. canadensis), which produces dark purple fruit that is used to make jams, jellies, pies and elderberry wine.  While Red Elderberry fruit can be used to make all of these, its raw berries are toxic.  Red Elderberry’s popularity is greatest with pollinators, birds and four-footed mammals.

The cyanide-producing toxins in its flowers, (raw) fruit, stems, bark, leaves and roots do not seem to discourage wildlife’s attraction to Red Elderberry.  The odor of its flowers, its nectar, and its highly nutritious pollen attract many ants, bees, wasps and flies.  At least 50 species of songbirds eat the bright red fruits, including red-eyed vireos, ruffed grouse, song sparrows, gray catbirds, brown thrashers, and thrushes. Squirrels, mice, raccoons, and black bears also eat the fruit. Porcupines, mice and snowshoe hares eat the buds and bark in winter. The foliage is usually avoided by herbivores, although white-tailed deer and moose browse on it occasionally.

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4 responses

  1. Bill On The Hill

    I had no idea Mary, this is most interesting. If I’m understanding this correctly, most animals have a natural immunity to the toxins in this plant. As I have always understood it, cyanide, even in the slightest quantities is rejected by the human body, i.e., psychedelic mushrooms, peyote, etc… The KGB is/was known for the use of cyanide to dispatch their enemies, i.e., spies…
    Bill… :~)

    July 24, 2019 at 9:24 am

  2. Linda Deetjen

    That answers what we saw last walk… Well,you have now closed. I am guessing you are exhausted physically and mentally. I will be off the grid until Sat am Hope walk on Saturday 1pm works for you, as we mentioned.. Moments of peace and a little extra rest,Jan Love from Linda

    On Wed, Jul 24, 2019 at 8:35 AM Naturally Curious with Mary Holland wrote:

    > Mary Holland posted: “The pollinated and fertilized white flowers of Red > Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa) have recently developed into the red fruit > for which this plant is named. Many people are familiar with its relative, > Common Elderberry (S. canadensis), which produces dark ” >

    July 24, 2019 at 10:00 am

  3. Alice

    I wish I knew where some trees are growing. Every Sunday I have a mug of Elderberry flower tea ‘just because,’

    July 24, 2019 at 1:52 pm

  4. bbcsh

    Ours forest friends may like these Elderberries, we on the other hand are at war with them. From your article I have a better understanding of how these invasive devils pop up all over our property each summer.

    July 25, 2019 at 11:36 am

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