Herbs of the Holyland by Nissim Krispil

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Black elderberry
Common name:

Black elderberry

Synonym name:

Hebrew name:

סמבוק שחור

Scientific name:

Sambucus nigra



Arabic name:


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4-10 m
Flowering color:
Flowering period:
Growing areas:
Plant growing in culture gardens in Arab villages in Judea, Samaria and Galilee.
Plant Description: Black elderberry is a shrub or tree with sharp oval leaves. It blooms in the spring in white cream color. The fruits are black berries that grow in clusters on the edges of the branches. The plant originally came from Europe but it is grown in gardens in Arab villages. All parts of the plant are used for curing diseases: the elderberry is  good against colds and fever. The fruits are much recommended for treating colds, coughs and flu. Its leaves and bark are used to treat constipation, arthritis and for mouthwash. 
How to use
Decoction of elderberry flowers and willow bark: simmer 2 heaping tablespoons of elderberry flowers in 2 liters of water, for half an hour. You can add to the decoction 50 g of willow bark. Strain the decoction, sweeten it with honey and drink two glasses per day.
Decoction of elderberry fruit in wine : boil 50 g elderberry fruit in a liter of sweet wine for 10 minutes , strain and drink one glass a day.
Elderberry brew : You can brew a teaspoon of dried flowers in a glass of boiling water, sweeten it with honey, wait for about 10 minutes and drink.
All The following methods are effective in cases of fever, runny nose, respiratory diseases, cough 
The Healing qualities of the black elderberry are known for centuries. Its originally was grew in Europe and Western Asia. 
 Claudius Galenus better known as Galen of pergamon, one of the great physicians of the ancient world ( 200-129 CE), categorize elderberry  as: "hot and dry " and he recommended it for treating catarrh and accumulation of phlegm in the body. 
The ancients Indians used the roots and fruits to treat diarrhea and Ascites, and from the fruits they produced cure for breathlessness and urinary tract obstruction. 
For Christians the elderberry symbolizes pain, suffering and death, because from its bole was prepared the cross that was used to crucify Jesus. 
In the European folk medicine the elderberry was used for healing almost every disease of the body and therefore it was named as "the folk medicine box". 
Tobias Kohn, that nicknamed Tobias the physician (1708-1652 )and  was  a physician of five Ottoman sultans, frequently praises the elderberry in his writing: " this tree the more you praise it you damage it because it detracts from its whole medical character. Its nature is hot and dry and it disperses all that is swollen. The Flowers soften and open and even more disperses they produce sweat and are used in internal medicine ... the bark is cleansing bad phlegm." 
In the Arab villages in Judea, Samaria and Galilee and the cities: Hebron, Beit Jala and Ramallah the elderberry is commonly raised in house gardens for medical purposes. At the midst of spring they are picking the blossoms, dries them and make from them medical tea for treatment of winter diseases as whooping-cough, flu and cough.