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Elderberry Flourishes this Time of Year

Elderberry flowers

    Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Elderberries are decorating South Carolina roadways and river banks right now. These large, eight to twelve feet tall, clumps of bright green foliage are topped with large, flat clusters of white flowers. You see them were there is associated water – along ditches or bordering streams and rivers. Interesting, those large clusters of flowers, botanically categorized as corymbs, are not particularly attractive to pollinators. Plants usually make big flowers to attract pollinators but Elderberry flowers don’t have nectaries – the specialized flowers structures that produce the sweet liquid so prized by bees. They do however, have lots of pollen-producing stamens, and elderberries pollen is primarily moved by wind. Pollen is full of protein and has fragrance, so it’s not surprising that elderberry flowers are used to flavor liquors, and in cosmetic preparations.

Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.