Herb: Chinese Elder

Latin name: Sambucus chinensis

Family: Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle Family)

Medicinal use of Chinese Elder:


Description of the plant:


150 cm
(5 feet)

Habitat of the herb:

Thickets and woods in hills and at low elevations in mountains, C. and S. Japan.

Edible parts of Chinese Elder:

Fruit - cooked. It is usually preserved, used in confectionery or as a tea. The fruit is about 4mm in diameter and is borne in large clusters. Some caution is advised, see notes on toxicity above. Stems and leaves - cooked. Some caution is advised, see the notes on toxicity above. Root - cooked. Use with caution, see the notes above on toxicity.

Other uses of the herb:

The plant is used to make a skin wash to rid the body of parasites. (The part of the plant that is used is not detailed, it is likely to be the leaves or dried flower stalks.)

Propagation of Chinese Elder:

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. Division of suckers in spring or autumn

Cultivation of the herb:

Thickets and woods in hills and at low elevations in mountains, C. and S. Japan.

Known hazards of Sambucus chinensis:

Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, the leaves and stems of some, if not all, 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.