The American Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) is found growing wild throughout the US and it's blossoms have become a highly-prized addition to craft beers. The blossoms of it's European counterpart (Sambucus nigra) are the main ingredient in the very popular St. Germain liqueur. The American Elderberry plant grows to a height of twelve feet, and flowers in lovely white clusters in mid to late June.
Pictured here are the unripe, green berries that will turn deep purple when mature. We were contacted last year by a local distillery that wants to experiment with some elderflower distillations. We sold them 19 pounds of the blossoms from our three mature bushes and from wild bushes we found around northern Kentucky. We also rooted some prunings on the hope that he would want more of the blossoms in future years.
We now have 50 new starts to put in the ground before fall, but sadly, we've been informed by the distiller that the distillation experiments have not fared well. He seems to think that the American elderflower does not have the intensity of it's European cousin. We'll plant the starts anyway, as they make a beautiful addition to the landscape and we can harvest the berries to make jelly and syrup. And what we don't harvest, the birds will enjoy!