Sambucus canadensis.This is the American elderberry which is native to the eastern half of the U.S. I’ve allowed this wild plant to grow along the edge of my property. On Sunday, I strolled out to the woodland edge, harvested the drooping fruit clusters and made some lovely, transparent, dark purple homemade jelly.

Making elderberry jelly is really a simple matter of removing the fruit from the stems, adding another fruit high in pectin (such as apples or crabapples – so it will actually jell), adding enough water to cover the fruit, boiling until soft, straining the juice, adding some sugar, boiling some more, then pouring into small jars. Easy. The small fruits are ripe now so harvest them before the birds do.