Elderberry - Sambucus cerulea (blue berry) and Sambucus racemosa (red berry): A deciduous shrub or small tree with oblong leaves. The red or blue berries grow in clusters and have 3-5 smooth seeds. The cooked berries are considered edible and are used for jams and jellies.


Is it toxic? The uncooked berries, leaves, twigs and seeds contain a cyanogenic compound. Ingestion may cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Large amounts may cause lethargy, dizziness and drowsiness. Toxicity is not expected with ingestion of the cooked berries.


Health Effects:

Ingestion: Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may occur. Ingestion of large amounts may cause weakness and dizziness. Poisoning is not expected with ingestion of the cooked berries.


What to do?

Ingestion: Drink a glass of water or milk. If vomiting or diarrhea occurs, ensure a good fluid replacement. Contact the Poison Control Centre.


How can I prevent exposure? Cook berries thoroughly and strain out seeds before eating. Know the name of the plants and berries in your yard.


Need more information: Call the Poison Control Centre.


© 2012 BC Drug and Poison Information Centre