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The mystical shrub
Scientific name: Sambucus
German name: Holunderbeere
Classification: Dipsacales
Family: Adoxaceae
Genus: Elder
Season: September - October
  • Water 80,9%
  • Carbohydrates 6,5%
  • Proteins 2,5%
  • Fats 1,7%

Legendary and toxic

The elder bush has accompanied man for many centuries and, because of its ambivalent nature, has always been the source of legends and myths. When raw, the elderberry berries are poisonous, but when cooked they become an all-rounder.

In the folk myth, elderberry is considered a protective shrub against evil spirits and demons. In ancient England, morticians contributed some elderwood to protect against evil, and in America there are still many cemeteries with elder bushes planted there to defend against evil spirits. This is because the bush is consecrated to the Germanic earth goddess "Holle" and as a gateway to the underworld it is supposed to derive everything negative into the earth.

Nutrition information

Quantity per 100 grams

Calories 48
Fat content 1 g
Saturated fatty acids 0,3 g
Polyunsaturated fatty acids 0,1 g
Monounsaturated fatty acids 0,1 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 1 mg
Potassium 303 mg
Carbohydrates 7 g
Roughage 4 g
Sugar 3 g
Protein 3 g

Origin & Provenance


Things to know


Origin & Provenance

Since ancient times, the berries, flowers, bark and roots of the elder bush have been regarded as food and remedies. The elderberry is native to Europe, where it can be found growing wild almost everywhere. In Germany and Austria it is even cultivated. The best harvest time for the berries is between September and October and for the flowers between June and July.

The elderberry is also known as the lilac berry, but has nothing in common with the well-known ornamental lilac except for this similar name.

Elderberry blossoms
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Raw elderberries contain the toxic ingredient sambunigrin, which decomposes when heated and is rendered completely harmless as a result. Cooked elderberries have kidney-, blood- and stomach-purified properties. Elderflower tea (also called lilac tea or sweat tea) has a laxative, invigorating and diuretic effect.

People who are prone to obesity or simply work a lot in a seated position, which is the case for a large part of the population nowadays, should frequently consume food and drinks with a high proportion of elderberry (juice, mush, etc.). The purifying effect of elderberry can thus stimulate the processes in the body that would otherwise be prevented by a lack of exercise.

Also with flu-like effects the juice of the elderberry can help and shorten the infection around up to two days.

Things to know

Elderberries must never be distorted raw, as they are poisonous and only become digestible when cooked.

Elderberry blossoms, which are picked on St John's Day (24 June), are considered to have extraordinary healing properties and should protect against diseases if they are baked into a pancake immediately after harvesting and distorted directly. However, a particularly high healing effect is not scientifically proven here.

The Old High German word "Holuntar" is associated with "Tree of Holla", which is based on the fairy tale of Frau Holle.


Before elderberries are prepared, they should be removed from the panicles with a fork. Cooked elderberries are made into liqueur, wine, soup, juice, mush, jelly, jam and compote.

Lightly dried elderberry blossoms are processed into tea and the Swabian speciality "Hollerküchle".

Elderberry jam

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