Herb: Chinese Elder

Latin name: Sambucus javanica

Family: Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle Family)

Medicinal use of Chinese Elder:

The leaves and the root are used in the treatment of pain and numbness, bone diseases and rheumatic problems. The fruit is depurative and purgative. A decoction of the fruit is used to treat injuries, skin diseases and swellings. A decoction of the whole plant is anodyne, depurative and diuretic

Description of the plant:


Habitat of the herb:

Wild areas on village outskirts and wasteland.

Edible parts of Chinese Elder:

Fruit - raw or cooked. The fruit is small but is borne in large clusters and is thus easy to harvest. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. Flowers - raw or cooked. Leaves and young stems - cooked. It is probably unwise to eat the leaves, see the notes above on toxicity. Root - cooked. Is it poisonous?

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 Chinese Elder:

Wild areas on village outskirts and wasteland.

Known hazards of Sambucus javanica:

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.