Black Elderberry 101 - Everything You Need to Know

Published on September 30, 2020

Wondering what all the fuss over Black Elderberry is about? You’re not the only one. 

So, today we’d like to introduce you to this popular plant, which is one of our favorites. We’ll explain where these berries come from, how they’ve been used throughout history, and several practical ways you can enjoy them. 

Let’s start with a quick overview.

What is Black Elderberry?

Black Elderberry may be one of the most commonly used herbs for immune health, and lucky for us, it's also quite delicious. In the United Kingdom, it's not uncommon to find Elderberry jam in corner stores, as well as cordials and sodas made from Elderflower (another part of the same plant). 

Black Elderberries are high in flavonoids called anthocyanins, which give the berries their bluish-purple color, as well as another group called anthocyanidins. 

These flavonoids have antioxidant properties, and they’ve also been recorded to have a high oxygen radical absorption capacity (ORAC), which is the scale by which antioxidant activity is measured.* They assist with the body's natural defenses and cell communication.*

Black Elderberry is a long-established daily tonic for both immune support and antioxidant support.*1,2

Get to know this diminutive purple berry, and learn how you can integrate it into your daily habits to give your immune system support and to help you stay feeling well all year round.*

Scientific Name

Sambucus nigra

Parts Used

Flowers and berries

Harvest Info

Flowers harvested in early summer; berries in fall.

Let’s take a closer look at where this plant comes from and how it’s been used across the world over the years.

Native Habitat

Elderberries grow on a plant called elder bushes, which are widespread in Europe, Western Asia, North America, and North Africa; elder bushes are commonly found growing in woodlands and hedgerow. 

If you’re trying to identify elder bushes while you’re out and about in the great outdoors, they have fluffy white flowers in summer, and, later, their branches are full of plump blue-black berry clusters.

Where Our Black Elderberries are Grown

Some of our herbs are grown on our 350-acre organic farm in Brevard, North Carolina, where we can keep a close eye on them while they’re cultivated. However, some plants do best in their own native bioregion, where the conditions are just right.

The Black Elderberries used in our products, including syrups and gummies, for example, come from a European growing cooperative based in Austria and are called Haschberg Elderberries. This cooperative was founded in 1978 and has more than 500 growers today. 

These farmers have a deep respect for the land, and every Elderberry is hand-picked and hand-harvested at their peak ripeness, ensuring that only the best berries are used in our products.

One of our growers, who is the largest producer of organic Elderberries in Europe, has been cultivating these beautiful berries for more than 40 years. Growing herbs for supplements is a long-standing tradition in Europe, so we are honored to be able to work with a family that has preserved this tradition. 

Why are we telling you this? Because at Gaia Herbs, we think you deserve to know exactly what’s in your herbal supplements as well as where and how those ingredients were grown. 

This is why we created Meet Your Herbs®, the world’s first herb traceability platform. 

On our unique platform, you can simply type in the herb ID found on the back of your Gaia Herbs product and discover the origin of your herbs, how they were grown, harvested, and extracted, and see validation of your product’s level of purity and potency. 

Head on over to to take a closer look for yourself.

Historical and Cultural Uses of Elderberry

People have been using Elderberries for centuries. In fact, if you think about the name of the plant, you’ll see that the Elder shrub was so revered that its very name reflects the respect that it was given.

The plant has been used since the fifth century AD, and it has been revered by both Native American and European herbalists throughout history. Native Americans used the branches of Black Elderberry to make flutes, so it is sometimes called "the tree of music." 

Black Elderberry pies were seasonal treats for early American settlers, and it was often made into wine, too (and still is).

While today it is more common to see the berries used in herbal preparations, the flowers and leaves of the Elder plant have also historically been used. 

Various parts of the plant were used to encourage healthy perspiration, healthy fluid levels, healthy bowel movements during bouts of occasional diarrhea, and healthy blood sugar levels.* 

Later, the berries became known for their immune supportive properties.* That’s one of the main reasons people continue to love and use Black Elderberry today.

Modern Uses and Research

Because of its immune-modulating and antioxidant properties, Black Elderberry is able to work at the cellular level and provide support for overall immune health.*3 

By normalizing and promoting the production of cytokines (an action that is essential for overall wellness), the immune system is able to maintain balance, which is especially important during those winter months when our bodies need all the plant power they can get.*4,5

The constituents contained in the berry, specifically, promote the health of the upper respiratory system by supporting a healthy inflammatory response and maintaining the integrity of the mucous membranes, too.* 

Quercetin, a flavonoid, is responsible for these aspects. It also supports a healthy response to occasional pain in the joints and muscles for healthy individuals.* Rutin, another flavonoid, supports the integrity of blood vessels, helping to keep them strong.*

Active Constituents


Vitamins A and C; flavonoids such as quercetin and rutin; and anthocyanins*


High in phenolic acids, sterols, flavonoids, mucilage, tannins, and volatile oil containing triterpenes*

If you’re ready to add Black Elderberry to your daily routine, you’ll be happy to know that you’ve got an easy task in front of you, even if you have kids. GaiaKids® Black Elderberry Kids Daily Gummies provide a fun way to give your little ones immune health support.* 

Our Black Elderberry syrup packs a big punch by concentrating the juice from 14.5 grams of Elderberries into a single teaspoon. It’s tasty by itself, but there are lots of fun recipes to get creative with. 

We’ll share a few of our favorite recipes after we give you some tips for making the most of your Elderberry syrup.

Tips for Daily Use

Black Elderberry Syrup poured on spoon

Start with a high-quality Elderberry syrup, like our Black Elderberry Syrup. Our Certified USDA Organic syrup is made with organic Elderberries, fresh-pressed shortly after harvest, and it concentrates the juice from 14.5 grams of Elderberries into a single, tasty teaspoon.*

We recommend 1 teaspoon daily for kids ages four and up as well as adults (except pregnant women). And, for your little ones ages one through three, we recommend a ¼ teaspoon daily. 

You can be assured that our Black Elderberry Syrup contains no corn, dairy, gluten, peanuts, shellfish, soy, tree nuts, or yeast.

So what exactly should you do with this wonderful immune supportive syrup?* Black Elderberry syrup can be given straight off a spoon, mixed in juice, or even made into a fun recipe.

Black Elderberry Syrup is so delicious that it usually isn't a challenge to get even the most finicky eaters to look forward to taking it. However, if you want some fun, delicious ideas beyond the ones we’ve shared below, read 15 Simple Ways to Incorporate Black Elderberry Syrup.

One thing to remember: Black Elderberries are highly astringent, so they should always be cooked before consumption, as raw Elderberries contain a toxic substance that if ingested can lead to nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea. Only ripe, cooked berries are edible — and delicious!

Black Elderberry Recipes

Gaia Herbs Black Elderberry Syrup packs an immune-supportive punch.* And it’s tasty and versatile. To get a bit more festive and creative with this syrup, try it in these recipes any time of year:

Choosing the Right Black Elderberry Product

When it comes to herbs to support immune health, you’ll need to determine what works best for you and your family.* 

We invite you to try our collection of Gaia Herbs Black Elderberry products. From syrups and gummies to capsules and liquid extracts, you’re sure to find the one that suits your needs and lifestyle.

Black Elderberry Extra Strength Gummies

Gaia Herbs Black Elderberry Extra Strength Gummies

Our certified organic Black Elderberry Extra Strength Gummies provide extra immune support when you need it the most.* This powerful formula contains 770 mg of Elderberry juice and concentrate, which equals 10 grams of fresh Elderberries per two gummies. 

Made with real fruit and without any added flavors, colors, or refined sugars, this is immune support you can feel good about.*

Black Elderberry Adult Daily Gummies

Gaia Herbs Everyday Elderberry Gummies

Our Black Elderberry Adult Daily Gummies are made with real fruit and are free of refined sugars, gelatin, and added color or flavors. Plus, they’re certified organic and, of course, naturally delicious. 

We suggest that adults chew two gummies daily for year round immune support.* Those two gummies contain six grams of fresh Elderberries.

GaiaKids Black Elderberry Kids Daily Gummies

Gaia Herbs Black Elderberry Kids Daily Gummies

Need gummies for your children? Our GaiaKids Black Elderberry Kids Daily Gummies contain three grams of Elderberries per serving.

Just like our other gummies, these are certified organic and made from real fruit without any refined sugars, added colors, or flavors. And your kids will love the delicious taste!

Black Elderberry Syrup

Gaia Herbs Black Elderberry Sryup

Our Black Elderberry Syrup is America’s most popular and best-selling organic Elderberry Syrup! 

In fact, this syrup was the 2020 Taste for Life Women’s Essential Award winner, 2019 Whole Foods Magazine Natural Choice Award Winner for Best Herbal Supplement, and a 2014 Taste for Life Essentials Award Winner. 

Formulated with just four clean, whole-food ingredients, this Certified USDA Organic syrup is made with both organic Black Elderberries and Acerola berries.

Black Elderberry NightTime Syrup

Gaia Herbs Black Elderberry NightTime Syrup

Black Elderberry NightTime Syrup is the Elderberry syrup you love for immune health plus herbs to promote restful sleep!* 

This non-habit-forming formula is made with a calming blend of Black Elderberries, California Poppy, and Lemon Balm, helping to support a good night’s rest for both adults and children ages six and over.*

GaiaKids Black Elderberry Syrup

GaiaKids Black Elderberry Syrup

We made GaiaKids Black Elderberry Syrup with your kids in mind. It’s made with Black Elderberries and Acerola and is lightly sweetened with organic honey. This is a delicious immune tonic that your kids will love!

Black Elderberry Capsules

Gaia Herbs Black Elderberry capsules

Our Black Elderberry Capsules provide the daily immune support you want in a convenient pill-format capsule.* It’s a great option for traveling, college dorms, the office, and people who are generally on-the-go. 

Plus, just like our syrup, these capsules are concentrated and made with organic Black Elderberries plus Acerola fruit for additional antioxidant support.*

Black Elderberry Liquid Extract

Gaia Herbs Black Elderberry Liquid Extract

Black Elderberry, Certified Organic comes in a liquid extract form with an easy-to-use dropper, making it an herbal liquid staple for your medicine cabinet. It’s made with organic Black Elderberries and no artificial sweeteners for potent immune support.* 

Adults take 30-40 drops of extract in a small amount of water three times a day between meals.

Take the Black Elderberry That’s Right for You

Since Black Elderberry has a longstanding history of both immune and antioxidant support, it’s a great herb for those cold winter months as well as all year round.* And the good news is that it’s easy to take and is available in multiple formats including delicious gummies and syrups.* 

Get creative with a recipe that uses Black Elderberry Syrup. Or, you can quickly get your immune support by taking your Elderberry as you go about your day with Black Elderberry capsules or Black Elderberry Adult Daily Gummies. 

Whatever you choose, we wish you health and happiness as you connect with this wonderful plant!


1 Zakay-Rones Z, Varsano N, et al. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 1995; 1:361-369.
2 Zakay-Rones Z, Thorn E, et al. Journal of Integrative Medical Research 2004; 32:132-140.
3 Youdim KA, Martin A, Joseph JA. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 1995; 1:361-9.
4 Barak V, et al. Israeli Medical Association Journal. 2002 Nov;4 (suppl 11):919-922.
5 Zakay-Rones Z, et al. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 1995 Winter; 1(4):361-369.