This article was last updated by on

Is Red Elderberry Edible? [Does It Hold Any Benefit]

The red semi-glossy egglike berries of Red Elderberry can be tempting, but you should know the edible criteria before eating it.

Red Elderberry is not edible when eaten raw as they are rich in cyanogenic glycosides, which can induce nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. However, you can prepare Red Elderberries to eat by cooking and boiling them.

Go through the article to learn more about the Red Elderberry and if you can leverage any benefits from it.

Is Elderberry Poisonous?

A native of North and South America and Eurasia, the Elderberry is a deciduous shrub or small tree with more than 40 cultivars under it.

The commonly known Elderberries are Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis (Black variety), Sambucus nigra ssp. caerulea (Blue variety), and Sambucus racemosa (Red variety).

Although they have different fruit color and growth requirement, all variety of Elderberry is poisonous if eaten raw and uncooked.
White bloom of Elderberry
The Elderberry flower is white that turns into dark purple berries when it ripens.

The significant parts of Elderberries with poisonous quality are berries, stems, leaves, and roots. It is due to the cyanogenic glycosides present in all parts except flowers.

So, consuming this cyanide in higher quantities leads to nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. In severe cases, it can even lead to coma.

However, Elderberry is rich in anthocyanins giving the berries a black and blue shade. For this, the juice from Elderberry is approved by FDA as an organic colorant for food. 

So, Is Red Elderberry Edible?

Elderberry, including Red Elderberry, possesses cyanogenic glycosides called sambunigrin, making it inedible to eat raw.

However, cooking and boiling the berries breaks down the cyanide compound and make it safe to eat. So Red Elderberry is edible only after cooking and removing the seeds.
The clone berries of Red Elderberry
The red berries of Red Elderberry grow in a clone-like shape.

Most native North Americans use flowers and fruits to prepare jams and jellies. But they process it thoroughly before consuming it.

Moreover, Red Elderberries had more importance in native tribes that knew about their medicinal benefits.

You can identify Red Elderberry from its cluster of white to cream flowers and compound leaves, which give an unpleasant odor if crushed. Also, it has brownish-grey bark.

People have started to approach Black Elderberry over Red because it is less likely to cause pain and is more palatable.

Does Red Elderberry Have Any Benefits?

Red Elderberry does possess medicinal benefits, but the facts are still to be verified.

However, native Americans use tea made from the Red Elderberry flower to remedy cough and flu.

Also, rubbing Red Elderberry roots over sore muscles, joints, and blemishes helped relieve the pain. Meanwhile, they use leaves to treat boils.

Moreover, people consume Red Elderberry to detoxify their bodies, as it is a laxative and can induce vomiting.

In today’s medicine, Red Elderberry is used in a nasal spray to treat sinus infections and is proven effective in lowering blood pressure.

While research is ongoing for Cancer cells combating properties of Red Elderberry.

From Editorial Team

Additional Tips!

The Elderberry became more famous during COVID-19 when a rumor spurred that it cured the viral symptom.

But that was not verified, and FDA even took action against companies that marketed products under the claim of effectiveness.

So do not go after rumor and verify the fact before using it!