Blue Elderberry (Sambucus neomexicana)

It is fall planting season!

I planted one Elderberry before it rained yesterday. It has been raining for 14 hours so everything planted yesterday is getting watered in.

Blue Elderberries are native to the western USA and are cold hardy to zone 4.  It is part of a complete pinyon-juniper biome and has been missing in my pinyon-juniper Food Forest.  Each addition strengthens my natural circular economy.  This adds nutritious forage for all mammals, including me.

When in bloom Elderberries have flashy umbels of creamy white flowers. A half dozen butterflies can perch on each one and every pollinated flower turns into an elderberry.  The shrub produces a lot of them.  I collected berries from the first one this summer so bought 5 more to plant around my property.

Foremost, this is a nutritious and tasty fruit well known for homemade wine, preserves, and out of hand eating.  Dried berries are a good addition to hot tea.  Elderberry is a medicinal  with many uses.  It is great for winter colds and flu, but I drink it even though I haven’t had a cold for at least 20 years or the flu for 30.  To be honest, I routinely get flu shots.

It is so productive that the birds may leave you a few.  Mine is not mature so I ate my share out of hand and the birds took a larger share.  If you must have every berry, net it before they ripen.  Or plant more: net one, plant two.  Or six of them like me.  They will feed me and five acres of wildlife very well.

Because it is native, I plan to plant three at the outer edges of my yard, weaving it in at the edges of my food forest. I will plant the other two up the hill but this is a good candidaye for a Louisiana Sage cage.

It can get 20 feet or so but I haven’t seen any over 10-15 feet around here.  It likes a lot of sun so try not to put it on the north of your house or an evergreen.  Mine will all get afternoon sun because of the mountain to the east.  I hope the birds plant a few more of their own.

One thing I have noticed is that most trees do better inside a forest and that was affirmed when I studied the plant-soil interface.  Soil mycelium connect tree roots and distribute nutrients across long distances through the forest.  Planting at the edges allows new trees to tie in to the system and both contribute and receive nutrition.  Gotta love a circular economy.

Although you can plant out in the middle of bare grass or soil, it is much harder for the tree to survive.  Plant the edges if you can so that the trees can support each other.  For example, if you have an established pine tree, plant a new tree adjacent rather than like sentinels on each side of a house.  Planting in groups of three is good.  Under plant with shrubs and flowers from its biome.


About rebeccatreeseed

I am a naturalist raised by naturalists. Treeseed is my earned name, while Rebecca is my birth name. I am of Northern European descent, with a quarter Irish.quarter thrown in. I suspect I was a product of northern invaders into Ireland into Ireland. but hard to say since DNA disproved the family story about Apache blood! I have found some odd ancestors to replace them. Last year I bought 5 acres of pinyon-juniper forest on the side of a mountain in Santa Fe County, New Mexico. I am fulfilling a lifetime dream of a cabin in the mountains and a food forest that will feed me and local wildlife. I want to share this new phase of my life with others that might be interested.
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