Wild Elderberry Patch: Thought I hit a gold mine

bcabrobin Posts: 251 ✭✭✭
edited October 2020 in Wild Edibles & Medicinals

I travel in a very rural area and driving on a dirt road in July I thought I had hit a gold mine, well yes, I guess I had! I came on a place where there were Elderberry plants beside the road, the patch was over 60' long and 20' wide, covered with blooms. I stopped and picked almost a bushel. You couldn't tell I had picked any, there were so many plants. I picked for friends and family and myself. I have been watching the fruit as it grows and was almost ready for picking (maybe a week 2 tops). Last week I drove that way to check and I cried, the township had mowed them off! there is a small patch maybe 5' wide by 10' long left standing. I know not everyone know what stuff is but PLEASE all they had to do was ask an older person, or a farmers wife. I'm pretty sure the guy that does the mowing knew what he was doing. There will not be enough on the plants left for even one batch of syrup. I know, I shouldn't of had plans for any of the berries, but I was dreaming of what I could make, who I could give some to.


  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,354 admin

    Similar happens here too. It is sad.

    It is a contract, the worker gets paid, it's just business. The person mowing, even if they knew or cared, or didn't, will have just been fulfilling the contract. Sad, I know. Frustrating, yes!

    At least some are left standing. The good thing is that most likely they will rejuvenate (unless they keep mowing it constantly or they fully destroyed the bushes) and you should be able to still get seeds, from what you picked or may pick, to plant the same variety elsewhere where a nice row can remain safe.

    Have you talked to the authorities to see what the plans are for next year? It might not make a difference, but you will at least know you tried.

  • Acequiamadre
    Acequiamadre Posts: 269 ✭✭✭

    This is such a sad story, especially since I am looking everywhere for Elderberries!

  • Annie Kate
    Annie Kate Posts: 680 ✭✭✭✭

    @bcabrobin @Acequiamadre apparently you can grow elderberries from cuttings--I have planned to do it, but never did, but if you could get some cuttings you could put them onto your own property. We bought another 10 plants this year instead of restarting from the old ones that are getting crowded out by our white walnuts.

  • JodieDownUnder
    JodieDownUnder Posts: 1,482 admin

    @bcabrobin yes I would have cried too. Some just don't get it or want to. Anyway turn this into a positive, you still have all the flowers you picked. Go back and prune some for cuttings, even try pulling some young plants out, the suckers, pop them in a bucket of water and pot them up when you get home. Then you'll always have elderberry on hand. That way you'll always know you have fresh, chemical free berries. Imagine if local authorities had decided to spray them with Glyphosate. It can take a while to notice any withering sometimes.

  • ltwickey
    ltwickey Posts: 369 ✭✭✭

    Stories like these are everywhere, unfortunately. I currently live in CT and stumbled across wild chokecherries and gave a shout of joy! Got a bushel and a half and made jelly for home and friends and family. Went to check on them last weekend and they were gone. Cut down by county workers. I did actually shed a tear or two...Wild harvesting is getting harder and harder.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,354 admin

    So...I have a proposal. Does anyone wish to swap their finds within their respective countries (to keep it legal)? We have people here looking for things & others that have.

    I would suggest that if anyone is looking for anything in particular, or has extra of something, to post an offer or wanted under your country of origin under "SEED SWAP" here:

    I will post mine in SEED SWAP: CANADA 🇨🇦

    If you need your country listed, let me know. The US is already listed.

  • Cornelius
    Cornelius Posts: 872 ✭✭✭✭

    That is really sad. I do agree that you should take cuttings and plant them out as well as give them to friends and family. That way you are spreading the joy!

  • stephanie447
    stephanie447 Posts: 404 ✭✭✭

    If people in general had more education on the value of these plants maybe they would be less likely to carelessly remove them. I wonder what folks could do to get the word out.

  • Grounded
    Grounded Posts: 153 ✭✭✭

    On an old train right-of-way, turned into a bicycle path, there were wild raspberries and blackberries on and off for miles. Several years ago they mowed them all down. On the same path there used to be Mulberry trees with branches hanging down low enough that you could reach up and pick them right off the branches. Several years ago, they either trimmed these trees, or removed them completely, so you can't even get at them with a stick. The local park district has done the same with all the berries in the local parks.

    I don't think this is a mistake, but a deliberate attempt to deter foraging.

    This is the same brain trust that deliberately removed all the milkweed, along with many other local plants, from local parks and pathways. They are now trying to "manage" planting of wild habitat, but doing a terrible and awkward job at it. Hopefully, nature will take over and restore the balance as it once was.

  • annbeck62
    annbeck62 Posts: 994 ✭✭✭✭

    It's such a shame that so many plants people aren't familiar with they assume are weeds.

    COWLOVINGIRL Posts: 954 ✭✭✭✭

    Oh, that's too bad!

  • Melissa Swartz
    Melissa Swartz Posts: 270 ✭✭✭

    @bcabrobin The same thing happens around here. So I planted my own elderberries after seeing the ones on the roadside mowed down at the peak of production. I understand that the roads would be overgrown if they don't mow, but it was very disappointing!

  • Annie Kate
    Annie Kate Posts: 680 ✭✭✭✭

    Yes, @stephanie447 that is a good point. I don't know what to do, but just being aware that something should be done is a good start--you've got to define the problem before you can solve it. In our area there are apple trees just dropping their apples all over, and wild asparagus, raspberries, grapes, etc.

  • bcabrobin
    bcabrobin Posts: 251 ✭✭✭

    We have planted them on our place many times they just don't like it here.

    I do have one bush that has never in 15+ years even had blooms this year I got 2 bunches of blooms and harvested a 1/2 full snack size ziplock, leaving the rest of the bunches to fall off and HOPEFULLY grow more bushes. We have planted seeds, cuttings and transplanted plants but they have never taken.

  • Desiree
    Desiree Posts: 255 ✭✭✭

    I had to plant my own since where I am is mostly fields of corn, soy and wheat. I created my own native plant "forest" on my one acre over the last twenty years, so I don't have to wander far to forage. In one corner is a forest glade with pines, willows, oak, hawthorn, peach, apple and maple trees, another is for sun loving herbs and edible flowers, another is my vegetables, and last is for gathering with friends and family. I have had so many surprise trees/plants/herbs/weeds just show up so it is pretty diverse now and I don't need a lot since it is just for me and my family. I was ordering some of the "exotics" just because they sounded good, but I have learned so much from different herbalists who say to focus on what is growing right outside your door because it is probably all you need. I never planted echinacea but I was cleaning an area under some dense pines and low and behold I have a patch (about 30 plants) just happy as can be growing there. I will wait a year or so to see how they spread before I harvest any. I love how nature works! I just wish our land managers could see the benefits of leaving some things be.