Sunday, February 9, 2014

Elderberries

Elderberries are one of this year's projects.

Elderberries are a minor fruit, similar to Aronia, Black Currants and Oregon Grape.

Intensely pigmented, highly flavored and capable of growing under incredibly hostile conditions, all four of these are "niche" players.

Aronia, currants and elderberry can withstand wet-to-very wet conditions.  Oregon Grape can withstand drought and eroded clay knobs by virtue of its massive root system.  One grower commented that you cannot eradicate it with a blow torch.  All four of these plants are also incredibly cold hardy.

It is also worth noting that all four of these plants have been used in herbal medicine.

Elderberries

 

Picture from HERE
There is solid evidence that elderberry extract can help the body fend off viruses.  This document is published by the National Institute for Health, an organization that is generally recognized as legitimate.

Inhibition of several strains of influenza virus...

They are natural remedies with antiviral properties, especially against different strains of influenza virus. Sambucol was shown to be effective in vitro against 10 strains of influenza virus...reduced the duration of flu symptoms to 3-4 days.
Production of inflammatory cytokines (IL-1 beta, TNF-alpha, IL-6, IL-8) was significantly increased, mostly by the Sambucol Black Elderberry Extract (2-45 fold), as compared to LPS, a known monocyte activator (3.6-10.7 fold). The most striking increase was noted in TNF-alpha production (44.9 fold).

Which leads to a caveat:  This may not be a good product for influenza that is killing large numbers of otherwise healthy people in the prime of their life.  The "Spanish flu" of 1918 was that kind of flu.  The current belief is that the Spanish flu triggered a cytokine storm that took out the patient's lungs as collateral damages.

One more link.

Given that viruses do not respond to many modern drugs, it is kind of cool that a fruit-bearing bush, one that is almos immune to disease and bugs that grows in "difficult" places can produce a viable treatment.

Bugs


There is one bug that adores elderberry leaves.  The cecropia moth.

Expand the picture.  It is beautiful.  Picture from HERE
I don't have it within me to begrudge this beautiful creature a few elderberry leaves.

Unsolicited Commercial Endorsement


I purchased unrooted cuttings from Pitspone Farms.  Not only did he ship promptly, but he sent me an email apologizing for not being able to mail them the day he received the order....The order arrived in the middle of a blizzard that shut down his city.  He threw a few extra cuttings (+30% more than I ordered!) to make it right.

I cannot guarantee that he will throw extra cuttings into every order, but he really seemed to bend over backwards to make sure I was a happy customer.  And I am.

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