Chumash: pitš (BOI) Español: Palo Fierro
Plant Type: Shrub or small tree Height: 8-20 feet
Deciduous/Evergreen: Evergreen leaves
Sun Exposure: Full sun
Water Requirements: Moderate to regular; tolerant of drought but not inland heat
Flower Season: May- November
Flower Color: Non-showy flowers are followed by feathery, silvery-white fruits
Natural Habitat: Western mountains and foothills; chaparral
Drought tolerant: yes
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. A s 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 were 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).