We are setting up the native plant nursery and building shade houses and starting hundreds of varieties of native plants through seeds, cuttings and root stock. But our primary native plant focus for 2014 through 2015 will be indigenous elderberries- blue in color (Sambucus caerulea) and the highly prized black elderberry (Sambucus nigra), which is found in many areas of the country but was brought to the this country by European Americans. Both were primarily used to make immune-strengthening medicine and also used to make wine, cordials, and jams and jellies.
The Native Blue elderberry (Sambucus caerulea) was over-harvested in the 30’s and 40’s by pharmaceutical companies who paid local people to harvest the berry. This was used for cough medicine, flu fighting medicine and other medicine. The berries were also used to make wine and other alcoholic drinks.
This is a Northwest broadleaf deciduous shrub which can attain a height of 15’-30’ and can grow 10’ wide. Over time it forms a dense thicket with all the pithy stems that it bears. It has showy white flowers and light blue berries. It is used in hedgerows and on the edge of forests where it can access good light. It thrives on moist soils, including those that flood. The blue elderberry is prime habitat for wild bees, butterflies, birds, deer, and other animals. The plant is harvested for flowers, berries, and cuttings to propagate other plants. It is missing from most biomes in the Pacific Northwest and many people are just now learning about its importance. The market for this plant is very large.
The competition is mostly “nativars” being imported from China. These nativars are hybrids of plants that are being grown for ornamental purposes. The berry and flower lack vitality and native bees do not often recognize it. This plant needs to be cultivated from wild native stock – both berries and cuttings. Eaglemount farms will cultivate 5,000 plants the first year.
The Black Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) was brought to North America in the 1700’s by Europeans. Over time the plant
has been hybridized and some of the plant varieties that are sold to gardeners, herbalists and farmers have lost their ecological and medicinal vitality. Eaglemount farms has acquired seed directly from a native forest in County Cork, Ireland to be used on our farm. These non-hybridized elderberry plants will be used as the foundation of our black elderberry nursery. We plan to have 5000 plants by the fall of 2015.
For about our native plant nursery – check out the tab called “native plants”. There you will find a complete list of the plants we are growing.