Asked March 13, 2017, 10:30 AM EDT
Are red elderberries edible?
Clare County Michigan
The short answer is "yes" with precautions.
For all elderberries unripe fruits and any part of the stem, leaf or root are toxic and should not be eaten.
Red elderberries when Ripe and Cooked can be eaten. Some references state that certain people are sensitive and should not eat them. Others state to eat them in small amounts, only.
As always, when in any doubt never eat! If you want a positive identification on a plant, submit a fresh sample of a twig with leaves and flowers and/or fruit to MSU Diagnostic lab. Include a picture of the whole plant and a close-up of a branched twig or limb. Here is their website--- https://pestid.msu.edu
Here are several links to help with identification and with detailed info on red elderberry plants. We use scientific names to be more exact because the common names can be used to mean different plants.
Sambucus pubens a.k.a. Sambucus racemosa also called red elderberry:
Another reference for Red Elderberry
The USDA site info
Sambucus nigra,called American Elderberry, is safe to eat when ripe-
Here is info on the more commonly used American or Black Elderberry-
If you have questions on preparing the berries, that would go to a different branch of our service, so please submit a separate question for that, if you would like. Thank you for using our service.