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Once They Are Ripe, Pick Those Elderberries Right Away!

Jonathunder, via Wikimedia Commons

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. If you’ve been out driving recently, you should have noticed one of our showiest wild flowers in bloom. Elderberry has a coarse texture due to its large, pinnately compound leaves held on stems eight to twelve feet tall. It’s the flowers and fruits that are so eye-catching though. The flowers, although individually small, are borne in flat, broad clusters and with their white color contrasting with the green leaves, are very noticeable. Some people collect the flowers and use them to flavor liquid preparation and also add them to pancake batter to give them a sweet, delicate flavor. The berries also are easy to spot as they develop a deep purple color as they ripen. But look quick, unripe berries are not palatable to birds or mammals, but once they are fully ripened and full of sugar, they’ll disappear almost overnight.

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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.