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I have a sambucus nigra Black Beauty Elderflower. When I made cordial from it it turned out red due to the red stems and read somewhere on the internet this was from the arsenic in it.

Simple questions, can I use the flowers to make cordial, if so do I need to be careful then and not put any stems in.

Can I use the berries like any other elderflower berry to make jelly etc.


Asked from the GoYpedia elder page



Arsenic compounds used to be used to make GREEN paint and dyes. Victorian children were taught never to lick their paintbrush (to make a fine point) when using green inks etc.

And there's a theory that Napoleon was killed by his bedroom wallpaper when he was banished to St. Helena. The climate was hot and moist and he had a green bedroom. The theory is that the green dye or ink in his wallpaper broke down under those conditions and gave off arsine gas that killed him over a period of time breathing it in.

Sorry I can't answer your specific question, but I thought you might be interested.

PS I've just noticed you joined GoY today. Welcome Polymathconsulting!

31 Aug, 2010


Just checked and the recipes say to pull off the flowers from the flowerheads, leaving behind most of the stems - little bits on the end of the flowers don't matter, but discard the rest, because it spoils the flavour, so it doesn't seem as if any poisons present will be enough to cause harm.
Recipes on line via google for elderberries too.

31 Aug, 2010


wellcome from me to o)))

31 Aug, 2010


Cannot find any reference to arsenic other than if the plant is grown on a contaminated site. The leaves, bark and berries were used for dyes, green, brown (ochre) and blue, and in the process other chemicals were used which caused the people working with it to suffer from various ailments. The flowers and berries are both fine for culinary use, but nothing beats the wild plant which is in fruit now, and there are some good crops of berries, especially where the soil has remained a little damp. Phil J

1 Sep, 2010

How do I say thanks?

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