Sunday, August 2, 2015

Red Car Property: Native Blue Elderberries Scarce This Year

Photo: Diane Edwardson, July 20, 2015.  More than most natives on the Red Car Property, Blue Elderberries are suffering from the prolonged drought.  (Click on photos to enlarge.) 
Photo: Diane Edwardson, July 20, 2015.  Even in dry years, some Blue Elderberries will  produce a good size clump of berries.  This is the most sparse crop I've seen in 25 years of walking the Red Car Property neighborhood.  Native Blue Elderberries are an important food source for wildlife.  You will often see birds and squirrels foraging among the Elderberry branches.  

Elderberry branches are thin and dry out quickly.  However, in just a week after the inch of rain from Tropical Storm Dolores, Elderberries were pumping out fresh leaves all over the neighborhood.  

CalFlora classifies them as a shrub.  Like other California natives, they are drought tolerant and evolved with our all-or-nothing rainy seasons.  Don't eat the berries - leave them for the wildlife.

CalFlora and California Poison Control list Blue Elderberry plants as majorly toxic, except for ripe fruit. 

Disclaimer: The Corralitas Red Car Property Blog prefers to quote reliable sources, such as CalFlora and California Poison Control on the issue of toxicity.  We often get email suggesting some plants are edible. If you are eating your way through the Red Car Property, we DO NOT recommend you eat any plant you find in the Red Car Property neighborhood without first doing your own research.