Substances & Homeopatic Remedies

Sambucus nigra

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Sambucus nigra


Genus name:   Greek name for elder tree
Species name:   black
Common name:   The fruit is black; elder is an ancient name for this genus, possibly the same root as alder.
The name may come from the Anglo-Saxon term  ellaern or aeld which means "fire" or "to kindle a fire". (Volák & Stodola)

The generic name Sambucus occurs in the writings of Pliny and other ancient writers and is evidently adapted from the Greek word Sambuca, the Sackbut, an ancient musical instrument in much use among the Romans, in the construction of which, it is surmised, the wood of this tree, on account of its hardness, was used.


Traditional name

blue elder, blue elderberry, Arizona elder, desert elder, European elder, black elder, elderberry
Botanical names:   S. canadensis, S. cerulea, S. mexicana, S. orbiulata, S. simpsonii, S. velutina, S. mexicana, S. laciniata

Used parts

Equal parts of the fresh leaves and flowers are chopped and pounded to a pulp, enclosed in a piece of new linen and subjected to pressure. The expressed juice is then, by brisk agitation, mingled with an equal part by weight of alcohol. This mixture is allowed to stand eight days, in a well - stoppered bottle, in a dark, cool place, and then filtered.


Plantae; Spermatophyta, Angiospermae - Flowering Plants; Dicotyledonae; Cornidae; Dipsacales; Caprifoliaceae


Original proving

Proven by Hahnemann, in 1819. (Douglass' Materia Medica)
History and authority: Introduced by Hahneman in 1819; Allen:  Encylop. Mat. Med.,  Vol. VIII 477; Hering:  Guiding Symptoms , Vol. IX, 188. (Pharmacopea)

Description of the substance

The elder is a fragile tree, often growing as a bush. Its hollow stems tend to fracture unless it grows in a very sheltered spot.
The flowers are used to make cordial and white wine. The leaves, however, are poisonous.
The ripe berries, popular with birds, are used to make preserves and as the basis of a red wine.

Leaf: Opposite, pinnately compound, with 5 to 11 elliptical, serrate leaflets.    Leaves are 4 to 11 inches long. The bottom leaflets are often 3-lobed.

Flower: Small, white, borne in dense, flat-topped clusters, up to 8 inches    across. Appearing June to July.

Fruit: Small, berrylike drupe, purple-black, and very juicy, up to 1/4 inch    in diameter, borne in flat-topped clusters. Maturing in July to September.

Twig: Stout, yellow-gray with obvious, warty lenticles. The pith is white,    large and continuous. Buds are very small, red-brown and pointed. The terminal    buds are mostly lacking.

Bark: Smooth and brown becoming furrowed and rough with age.

Form: A large shrub or small tree often with multiple stems that are spreading    or arching. The trunk is usually short.

any of about 20 to 30 species, mainly shrubs and small trees, comprising the genus Sambucus of the family Caprifoliaceae. Most are native to forested temperate or subtropical areas of both hemispheres. They are important as garden shrubs, as forest plants, and for their berries, which provide food for wildlife and are used for wines, jellies, pies, and medicines. An elder has divided leaves and flat, roundish clusters of tiny, yellowish white, saucer-shaped flowers that are followed by small red, blue-black, black, or yellow berries. The American, or sweet, elder (S. canadensis), of North America is the most important species horticulturally. It grows to 2.4 metres (8 feet) tall and produces large clusters of white flowers, succeeded by abundant clusters of fruit. This fruit, called elderberry, is sometimes collected from wild trees, but a number of cultivated varieties have been developed for home and commercial use. The berries may be mixed with grapes for jelly or combined with apples as a pie filling. In some areas, the juice is traditionally fermented into wine. The unopened flower buds are sometimes pickled as a substitute for capers. In folk medicine, the elderberry has been touted as a remedy for stomach upsets, as an eye lotion, as a salve for bruises, and as a diuretic.Elderberry, or European common elder (Sambucus nigra) Other species of elders include the European, or black, elder (S. nigra; see photograph), which reaches 9 m (29 feet), and the blue, or Mexican, elder (S. caerulea), which grows to 15 m (48 feet). European red elder (S. racemosa), native from northern Europe to North China, has round clusters of scarlet berries and reaches 4 m (13 feet). Red-berried elder (S. pubens), with dark pith, is a similar North American species. Danewort (S. ebulus), widespread in Europe and North Africa, is a perennial with annually herbaceous growth to 1 m (3 feet). Its clusters of black berries were once a source of dye. Copyright © 1994-2002 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.