Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography


with 25 comments

How about this young elderberry bush (Sambucus nigra subsp. canadensis) that I found flourishing at McKinney Falls State Park on June 3rd? Individual blossoms are tiny, measuring just 1/8–1/4 of an inch across (3–6mm). As attractive as elderberry flowers are, somehow they’ve never appeared in these pages till today. And look at what a wide North American distribution this shrub has.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 6, 2019 at 4:45 AM

25 Responses

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  1. Sharp in focus your photo displays the beauty of the wild elderberry bush, Steven.

    Peter Klopp

    June 6, 2019 at 8:06 AM

    • Elderberry’s white flower clusters are attractive indeed. They attracted me as soon as I saw them, the bright white standing out against the darker foliage.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 6, 2019 at 8:14 AM

  2. I love elderberry, those big white umbels like clouds. It grows in moist soil everywhere here at the edges of clearings in the woods. But spraying along roads in the ditches and hillsides killed off so much. Now that we’re not spraying so much I can pick my free elderberries again.


    June 6, 2019 at 9:33 AM

    • That’s a good description: “those big white umbels like clouds.” I hadn’t initially made the connection to moist soil, but this plant was indeed growing not far from a creek that’s known to overflow its banks. I’m glad you got your elderberries back.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 6, 2019 at 7:28 PM

  3. We had huge bushes of them next to the barn when I was growing up – the berries make amazing jelly!


    June 6, 2019 at 6:32 PM

    • Then this must bring back happy memories for you. I don’t believe I’ve ever had elderberry jelly.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 6, 2019 at 7:39 PM

      • Yes! I won second place for my blue elderberry jelly for a few consecutive years. (It is a long story why I did not win first, and the last time, I won third.) We have no black elderberries, but we have plenty of blue elderberries.


        June 6, 2019 at 11:06 PM

  4. Love elderberry flowers. We have some wild in the yard but I have not photographed them nor eaten the berries. We leave them for the birds.

    Steve Gingold

    June 6, 2019 at 6:56 PM

    • I understand why you might leave the berries for the birds. Still, I’m surprised that you haven’t photographed the flowers, especially when you have some in your yard.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 6, 2019 at 7:41 PM

  5. I’d set aside trying to identify a shrub I found along the Piano Bridge Road outside Schulenburg in late March. I thought I’d found rusty blackhaw (Viburnum rufidulum), but now I’m reconsidering, since what I found has the same red stems, umbels of tiny white flowers, and so on.

    The flowers of this beauty certainly are striking. The contrast between the flowers and those dark, glossy leaves makes for a great photo. I had no idea that elderberry has so many medicinal uses, or that people prepare make fritters from the flowers, much like they do with squash blossoms.


    June 6, 2019 at 10:02 PM

    • I’d heard about elderberry fritters years ago from the elderly friend who died in 2017 and for whom I went to Garden in the Woods last year; she’d eaten them when she was young. I haven’t tried any yet, nor have I ever had squash blossom fritters.

      I noticed that the Wildflower Center page for this species at https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=SANIC4 has lots of photographs that might let you clinch the identification of the shrub you found near Schulenburg last year.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 7, 2019 at 6:47 AM

  6. I wonder if those few blank states feel put out that the prolific elderberry chooses to ignore them. Or maybe the elderberry is only biding its time, before engineering a complete take over of the whole USA. They are very attractive.


    June 7, 2019 at 4:29 AM

    • Or else the people in those blank states are so grieved at not having any elderberry bushes that all they can do is look at you with a blank stare. I just noticed that elderberry is marked even for Puerto Rico and Hawaii, where I have to assume the species isn’t native.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 7, 2019 at 6:50 AM

  7. Elderflower cordial is pretty nice too 🙂


    June 7, 2019 at 5:37 PM

  8. Widely distributed, but not here! 🙂 I do remember it, and this photo is great, Steve, like fireworks.


    June 11, 2019 at 7:43 PM

    • And the flowers are such a bright, pure white. And yes, you’re in one of the five states in the lower 48 that lack elderberry, but at least you experienced it in the east. I may have seen it when I was growing up in New York but I didn’t pay attention to such things back then.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 11, 2019 at 9:39 PM

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