Aromatic plants

Sambucus nigra

The characteristics of the Sambucus nigra

If we take a walk in our woods in search of the sambucus nigra plant and we want to be able to recognize it without doubts, it is necessary to have a precise and detailed description. Elderberry is a plant belonging to the Caprifoliaceae family. It is actually a tree, but much more often we find it as a shrub, 4 to 6 meters high, but it can also reach up to 10 m. Its foliage is expanded, globular and rather dense. Its trunk is quite erect and rather branched from the lower part: it is sinuous and often it is also bifurcated.The trunk is rather twisted, irregular and gnarled. Its bark is brownish gray in color and is wrinkled and deeply fissured. The bark of the branches, on the other hand, is light gray and smooth;

The leaves and flowers of the sambucus nigra

The branches of the elderberry have a drooping and arched pattern and have leaves 10 to 30 centimeters long, whose color is quite dark green, with a toothed and serrated edge. The shape of the leaves, on the other hand, is lanceolate with a sharp apex. The leaves of the elderberry give off an unpleasant odor only if they are rubbed. A feature of the trunk and branch section is a central pith which is white, elastic and soft, formed of cells with a thin cellulose wall. The roots of the elder, which run on the surface, have a rather intense sucking activity. The flowers are hermaphrodites and the inflorescences, called corymbs, are showy and 10 to 23 centimeters wide. The flowers consist of five petals that are fused to each other at the base: they are said to be gamopetals. The chalice of flowers is also it is of the gamosepal type and the four stamens are protruding. Unlike the leaves, the flowers are quite fragrant.

The fruits of the sambucus nigra and other peculiarities

The elderberry blooms in the period between April and June. Its fruits are in fact shiny blackish berries, hence the scientific name of the plant. The fruits are small globular drupes, which are first green and then turn purple-blackish. At their maturity they are shiny and juicy and contain from 2 to 5 brown and oval seeds. These fruits are grouped in infructescences that are pendulous, on reddish peduncles. The berries of the sambucus nigra as well as their juice, are fresh and when fermented, they are used to produce inks which, depending on which species it is , its condition and the recipe used, may appear in different colors. Generally the inks produced are blue or blue / black, but also brown, red or lilac.

The beneficial properties of sambucus nigra and other uses

Why harvest sambucus nigra? Because the elder has quite beneficial medicinal and herbal properties that are found both in the fruit and in its flowers. The rest of the plant, including the seeds, is poisonous. The extracts from the bark, leaves, flowers, fruits and roots were and are instead used for the treatment of bronchitis, cough, infections that afflict our respiratory system in the upper upper part and also for fever. In the kitchen it is used as a flavoring for bread, also called “bread with elderberry”. Instead, with its flowers you can make an excellent syrup, which is diluted with water, which is a very thirst-quenching drink, widespread in Tyrol and in many Nordic countries. If it is fermented you get a kind of sparkling wine. The syrup is also used for the preparation of cocktails, such as Hugo, while its berries are eaten but only cooked and are used to make jellies or jams which, however, have laxative properties. They can also be used in sweet soups, such as the famous Fliederbeersuppe which is eaten in northern Germany.

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