The Temperate Database is in the process of being updated, with new records being added and old ones being checked and brought up to date where necessary. This record has not yet been checked and updated.
Common Name: Mexican Elder
Sambucus mexicana is a deciduous shrub that can grow up to 1.00 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, medicine and source of materials.
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[
South-western N. America - California to New Mexico, south to Mexico.
Open flats and cismontane valleys and canyons below 1850 metres in California[
]. Oak forests along streams and ditches, 1800 - 3000 metres in Mexico[
We have very little information on this species and do not know if it will be hardy in Britain, though judging by its native range it should succeed outdoors in many parts of this country. It is closely related to S. caerulea[
]. The following notes are based on the general needs of the genus.
Tolerates most soils, including chalk[
], but prefers a moist loamy soil[
]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Tolerates some shade but is best in a sunny position[
]. Tolerates atmospheric pollution and coastal situations[
Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[
Flowers - raw or cooked[
Fruit - raw or cooked[
]. It is usually dried before being used since this reduces a somewhat rank taste[
]. The fruit can be used in making pies, preserves, winemaking etc[
]. The fruit is about 6mm in diameter and is borne in large clusters[
]. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.
An infusion of the blossoms has been used in the treatment of upset stomachs, fevers, sore throats, colds and flu[
A decoction of the roots has been used in the treatment of constipation[
A purple to black dye is obtained from the fruits[
An orange to yellow dye is obtained from the stems[
Wood - soft and coarse-grained[
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, mid summer 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[