Sambucus nigra caerulea
Chumash: qayas Español: Sauco
Category: Shrub or small tree
Origin: Western United States
Flower Color: White/Cream
Height: Up to 30ft
Width: Up to 20ft
Esposure: Full to Partial Sun
Drought Tolerant: Moderate
Irrigation: Some water in heat of summer
Alternate Names: Western Elderberry, Tree of music
Elderberry grows as a shrub or tree reaching heights up to 30 ft. In the spring it produces hundreds of creamy white colored flowers that provide food for pollinators and medicine for humans. In the summer the blue to black berries ripen and are food for birds and are also medicinal for humans. The berries should be cooked or dried before consumption. Very small amounts can be eaten raw.
Elderberry is a perennial and is common along streams, in the forest and in chaparral. As a medicine, indigenous people throughout the world have used this plant medicinally. The flowers are used for colds, flus and fevers. The inner bark is an emetic. The fresh (not dried) berries can create nausea in some people. The berries can be used as a laxative, for fevers, and especially to increase the immune system response for viral infections. The dried berries are also used as a food by local Chumash people. The blossoms can also be consumed as a tea for PMS.
Elderberry is known as the music tree by the Chumash and other tribes. They use it to make clapper sticks and flutes/whistles. "Elderberry is the music tree, our heartbeat."
Cecilia Garcia (Chumash).