Elderberries Are Only Safe to Eat After Cooking
Species of elderberries grow in Australia, Europe, Japan, and in many parts of North and South America. Sambucus canadensis, with deep purple black fruit, is the one most widespread in the US. All parts of the plants have compounds that are toxic to humans (not native wildlife). Fortunately, heat destroys the dangerous chemicals the seeds in the ripe fruit contain so you can make delicious wine or pies with them. When I was studying at Clemson, my favorite professor, David Bradshaw, told us how to pick a young, entire flower head, dip it in pancake batter and cook it up as a delicious fritter. Although the fruits are most commonly used, the flowers with an incredibly delicate floral essence, are the flavoring agent in the high-end cordial, St. Germain, which when mixed with prosecco makes a refreshing aperitif.