When it comes to wildcrafting, you should always know where you’re harvesting from!! It’s so important. Sides of roads, neighborhood streets, public parks… NEVER wildcraft form an area that has been sprayed or has been exposed to other toxins (runoff from roads etc.)
Once you’ve identified a safe and healthy plant, or if you’re harvesting your own cultivated patch, gather the flowers in the late spring or early summer. Keep in mind while harvesting, that if you take ALL the flowers and buds there will be no berries! Flowers = berries so don’t go crazy. Be sure to leave some so you can enjoy a harvest of berries in the fall.
To gather flowers, simply clip the flower stem under the first branch of the inflorescence, keeping in mind that the FRESH STEMS OF THE ELDERBERRY ARE TOXIC. Dry the flowers on the stem. Once dried, you can easily garble (or remove) the individual flowers from the stem.
Gather the berries in late summer (mid-August through mid-September) and use the same method as when harvesting flowers. The fruits of the red, black and blue elderberries have seeds that are TOXIC IF NOT COOKED. Do not be tempted to eat them while harvesting.