Elderberries and Other Native Fruits of Summer
California native plants provided a rich and varied diet for the native peoples; this is a flora of plentitude, and I really like to partake of it. I recently picked and cleaned the fruits of Lemonade Berry (Rhus integrifolia) and in removing the flesh from seed within, discovered that, true to its common name, these fruits make a wonderful pink, Indian lemonade!
Every summer I pick large quantities of Blue Elderberries; I have several shrubs in my own garden, and also have access to established shrubs in the gardens of several friends. Blue Elderberry (Sambucus nigra ssp.caerulea) is edible and full of healthy nutrients, with a long history of human uses both in Europe and North America. The raw berries should not be eaten in quantity because they can cause stomach upset. Other parts of the plants; roots, bark and leaves, are poisonous, and should not be eaten, though when prepared, and taken in small doses, they have been used as an emetic.