Reliably determine black elder
Delicious juices, liqueurs and jellies can be conjured up from the flowers, leaves and berries of the black elder. Although it is one of the most common shrubs in the wild, some poisonous conspecifics sometimes cheat in between. You can determine the edible elder based on the following characteristics:
- Thrives as a shrub or small tree along the road, in clearings and in hedges
- 3 to 5 meters in height with curved branches
- elliptical leaves with a serrated edge
- 2 pairs each opposite and 1 leaf at the tip (opposite, unpaired pinnate)
- Creamy white blooms from May to July
- violet-black berries in August and September, initially reddish in color
- An overview of the most beautiful elderberry species
- This is how false and real elderberries differ
- Where do elderberries occur?
Differences to the poisonous dwarf elder determine
The berries of the poisonous dwarf elder look confusingly similar to the fruits of the black elder. You can distinguish the two types using the following criteria:
- toxic attich gives off a very unpleasant odor
- its leaflets are elongated to lanceolate and up to 15 centimeters long
- the poisonous dark berries point upwards, while the edible fruits of the black elder droop
- Dwarf elder berries have a small dent
In addition, an attich with a maximum height of 150 centimeters remains significantly smaller than a fully grown black elder.
Keep your eyes open while collecting the flowers
Since the flowers of the black elder are often used in natural medicine, they are also often collected. Caution is advised here, because at first glance the white elderflower and the equally white flowers of the spotted hemlock look similar. In this case, an odor test provides reliable information about which plant you are actually dealing with. The spotted hemlock is betrayed by a foul smell.
Tips & Tricks
When cooked, the berries of the red elder are also a delicious ingredient for jams, juices and liqueurs. The poisonous stone kernels must be removed, however, as their ingredients do not dissolve during cooking. In view of the clear color difference, grape elder cannot be confused with poisonous elderberry species.