The Smell of Elderberry Blossoms Is in the Air

Jun 18, 2018

Credit SC Public Radio

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Elderberries are decorating South Carolina roadways and river banks right now. These clumps of bright green foliage, often eight to twelve feet tall, are topped with large, flat clusters of white flowers. You see them most often in relatively open areas where there is organically rich soil associated water – along ditches or bordering streams and rivers. Interesting, those large clusters of flowers, botanically categorized as corymbs, are not particularly attractive to pollinators. Plants usually make big flowers to attract pollinators, but Elderberry flowers don’t have nectaries – the specialized flowers structures which produce that sweet liquid sought after by insects.  They do however, have lots of pollen-producing stamens, and elderberries pollen is apparently primarily moved by wind. Elderberry Pollen   has fragrance somewhat similar to roses so it’s not surprising that elderberry flowers are used in cosmetic preparations and to flavor liquors.