Plant identification: elder(berry wine)

The tutor shares a backyard find that is somewhat coincidental.

For an unknown reason, I decided to listen to Elton John’s song “Elderberry Wine” on YouTube the other day. It’s a great song; I’ve just never felt moved to look it up. I heard quite often from a vinyl record decades ago.

At the same time, there’s a tree growing in my abandoned garden (very good soil, just no time to plant it) that I’ve been wondering about. Not long after hearing “Elderberry Wine”, I happened to be thumbing through a field guide when I stumbled upon elder. There were three varieties: black, blue, and Pacific red. Elder, the guide points out, is also referred to as elderberry.

The elderberry description matches the tree in my backyard – especially that of the blue elderberry. It would be tempting to assume the tree to be Pacific red, but it doesn’t have an unpleasant odor. The leaflets, saw-toothed and pinnately compound, occur in groupings of nine, rather than five to seven. The ecology – a cleared, yet neglected place – more closely matches that of blue elderberry as well.

Of course, the real test would be the colour of the berries, but there’ve not been any; perhaps the tree is too young to flower. I guess we’ll see.

It’s tempting to imagine that tree out in the backyard, with strains of “Elderberry Wine” reaching it through the open window:)

I’ll be sharing more of my field finds.


Little, Elbert L., Susan Rayfield and Olivia Buehl. Audubon Society Field Guide to North
   American Trees, western region. New York: Knopf, 1986.

Pojar, Jim and Andy MacKinnon. Plants of Coastal British Columbia. Vancouver:
  BC Ministry of Forests and Lone Pine Publishing, 1994.

Elton John. “Elderberry Wine.” MCA Records, 1972.

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

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