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The berries shine blue on the Northern floodplain. Elderberry (Sambucus cerulea) is a valuable food source for birds and a historically useful plant for humans. Berry extracts have been suggested to cure influenza and the branches are used to make flutes. It’s also the most powerful wand in the wizardly world of Harry Potter. Parts of the plant contain cyanide-producing glycosides and should be treated with caution, and raw berries can elicit a reaction if consumed in mass. When cooked, however, the berries become harmless and make delicious juice, jam and jelly. We decided to make jam from the berries, which we combined with sugar and lime juice and cooked down to a thick consistency. To add more flavor, we included some dried mint leaves from our garden. You will find many recipes online and only your imagination can limit what you end up with. Enjoy!

Berry Photo- Jeff Clarke Jam Photo - Jeff Gailus

About the Author

Ylva Lekberg

Ylva graduated from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences with a M.Sc. in Biology and Horticulture in 1996 and a Ph.D. in Ecology from Penn State University in 2004. She received the Alumni Association Dissertation Award for her work in agroecology and subsistence farming in Sub-Saharan Africa. Post-doctoral positions at Montana State University and later at Copenhagen University as a Marie Curie Fellow have allowed her to explore the role of mycorrhiza, a root-fungus symbiosis, for geothermal plants in Yellowstone National Park and coastal grasslands in Denmark. Her research has been published in journals such as Ecology, Journal of Ecology and New Phytologist.

Ylva currently works at MPG Ranch as a soil ecologist. She explores the role of mycorrhiza in the success of exotic plants and examines the use of specific pathogens to combat invasions. In her spare time Ylva mountain-bikes, plays soccer, and maintains a large vegetable garden.