Herb: Red Coast Elder

Latin name: Sambucus callicarpa

Synonyms: Sambucus racemosa callicarpa, Sambucus racemosa pubens arborescens

Family: Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle Family)

Medicinal use of Red Coast Elder:

The leaves are abortifacient, analgesic, oxytocic and poultice. A decoction of the leaves has been used to terminate a pregnancy and can also be taken during labour to ease the birth. An infusion of the leaves has been used as an antiseptic wash on areas affected by blood poisoning. A poultice of the pounded leaves has been applied to abscess and boils and also to sore joints to help reduce the swelling. A poultice of the cooked shoots has been used to alleviate pain. The bark is cathartic. An infusion of the bark has been used in the treatment of coughs and colds. A poultice of the bark has been applied to sore joints to help reduce the swelling. The fruit has been cooked and eaten as a treatment for stomach problems.

Description of the plant:


3 m
(9 3/4 foot)

to July

Habitat of the herb:

River banks in low moist soils from sea-level to 2400 metres.

Edible parts of Red Coast Elder:

Fruit - raw or cooked. The fruit can be made into jams and preserves. It can also be dried for winter use. The fruit is about 5mm in diameter and is borne in large clusters. Some caution is advised, see notes above on toxicity. Flowers - raw or cooked.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a cold frame, when it should germinate in early spring. Stored seed can be sown in the spring in a cold frame but will probably germinate better if it is given 2 months warm followed by 2 months cold stratification first. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. If good growth is made, the young plants can be placed in their permanent positions during the early summer. Otherwise, either put them in a sheltered nursery bed, or keep them in their pots in a sheltered position and plant them out in spring of the following year. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 7 - 10cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Cuttings of mature wood of the current season's growth 15 - 20cm with a heel, late autumn in a frame or a sheltered outdoor bed.

Cultivation of Red Coast Elder:

River banks in low moist soils from sea-level to 2400 metres.

Known hazards of Sambucus callicarpa:

Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, the leaves and stems of some members of this genus are poisonous. The fruit of many species (although no records have been seen for this species) has been known to cause stomach upsets to some people. Any toxin the fruit might contain is liable to be of very low toxicity and is destroyed when the fruit is cooked.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.