Elderberry, 2013 Herb of the Year

The International Herb Association has named elderberry the 2013 herb of the year.

American elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) is a deciduous shrub that is native to Missouri and the eastern part of North America. Elder grows wild in this part of the country, but you can grow them yourself in your own garden. Plant them in fall or early spring in either full sun or partial shade.

Tiny lemon-scented white flowers appear in June and July and give way to clusters of black fruits in late summer.

The fruits are edible if cooked and can be used in elderberry jelly, combined with grapes or blackberries. Other tasty treats from elderberries include jams, pie filings, wine, and simple syrups.

The berries provide vitamin C, phosphorus, potassium, and vitamin A.

Elderberry fruits attract birds and butterflies.

Elderberry Syrup

1 cup water
½ cup honey
¼ cup dried elderberries

Combine water and elderberries in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Strain the berries and pour the liquid into a bowl. Stir in the honey. Pour into a jar and refrigerate.