Sambucus canadensis (Scientific name)

General Poisoning Notes:

American elder (Sambucus canadensis) is a native shrub found in the moist soils of swamps and along rivers and lakes in eastern Canada. This plant contains cyanogenic glycosides and a cathartic chemical. The plant has poisoned cattle and perhaps sheep. Children were poisoned after using the hollow stems for whistles. Ingesting uncooked berries may cause nausea (Kingsbury 1964, Muenscher 1978). Red-berried elder (Sambucus pubens) is a native shrub found from Newfoundland to Manitoba. There are unsubstantiated reports that this species may also have toxic potential. Children should not be allowed to chew the stems or berries.

References:

  • Kingsbury, J. M. 1964. Poisonous plants of the United States and Canada. Prentice-Hall Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J., USA. 626 pp.
  • Muenscher, W. C. 1975. Poisonous plants of the United States. Revised. Collier Books, New York, N.Y., USA. 277 pp.

Nomenclature:

Scientific Name:
Sambucus canadensis L.
Vernacular name(s):
American elder
Scientific family name:
Caprifoliaceae
Vernacular family name:
honeysuckle

Go to ITIS*ca for more taxonomic information on: Sambucus canadensis

References:

  • Agriculture Quebec. 1975. Noms des maladies des plantes du Canada/ Names of plant diseases in Canada, Quebec City, Que., Canada. 288 pp.
  • Alex, J. F., Cayouette, R., Mulligan, G. A. 1980. Common and botanical names of weeds in Canada/Noms populaire et scientifiques des plantes nuisibles du Canada. Revised. Agric. Can. Publ., Ottawa, Ont., Canada. 132 pp.
  • Bailey, L. H., Bailey, E. Z. 1976. Hortus third. Revised. MacMillan, New York, N.Y., USA. 1290 pp.
  • Scoggan, H. J. 1978, 1979. The flora of Canada. Nat. Mus. Nat. Sci. (Ottawa) Publ. Bot. 7(1)-7(4). 1711 pp.
  • Van Wijk, H. L. 1911. A dictionary of plant names. Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, The Netherlands. 1444 pp.
  • Victorin, M. 1964. Flore Laurentienne. 2nd ed. Univ. Montreal, Montreal, Que., Canada. 952 pp.

Geographic Information

  • New Brunswick
  • Nova Scotia
  • Ontario
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Quebec

References:

  • Bailey, L. H., Bailey, E. Z. 1976. Hortus third. Revised. MacMillan, New York, N.Y., USA. 1290 pp.
  • Boivin, B. 1966, 1967. Énumération des plantes du Canada. Provencheria 6. Nat. Can. (Que.) 93: 253-274; 371-437; 583-646; 989-1063. 94: 131-157; 471-528; 625-655.

Image or Illustration

Images: Sambucus canadensis - Google search

Notes on Poisonous Plant Parts:

Animals were poisoned after ingesting young shoots and leaves. Children were also poisoned when they used the hollow stems as whistles. Uncooked berries may cause nausea (Muenscher 1975).

Toxic Parts:

  • leaves
  • pollen
  • young shoots

References:

  • Muenscher, W. C. 1975. Poisonous plants of the United States. Revised. Collier Books, New York, N.Y., USA. 277 pp.

Notes on Toxic Plant Chemicals:

Cyanogenic glycosides are found in elders. Sambunigrin and other chemicals may be involved. Cathartics may also be present (Kingsbury 1964, Tewe and Iyayi 1989).

Toxic Plant Chemicals:

  • sambunigrin

References:

  • Kingsbury, J. M. 1964. Poisonous plants of the United States and Canada. Prentice-Hall Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J., USA. 626 pp.
  • Tewe, O. O., Iyayi, E. A. 1989. Cyanogenic glycosides. Pages 43-60 in Cheeke, P. R., ed. Toxicants of plant origin. Vol. II. Glycosides. CRC Press, Inc., Boca Raton, Fla., USA. 277 pp.

Animals/Human Poisoning:

Note: When an animal is listed without additional information, the literature (as of 1993) contained no detailed explanation.

Cattle

General Symptoms of Poisoning:

References:

  • Muenscher, W. C. 1975. Poisonous plants of the United States. Revised. Collier Books, New York, N.Y., USA. 277 pp.

Humans

General Symptoms of Poisoning:

Notes on Poisoning:

Apparently, the use of the hollow stems as whistles or blowpipes has caused poisoning in children. The bark contains a cathartic. Ingesting uncooked berries can cause nausea and vomiting. Cooked are not harmful if eaten in small amounts (Kingsbury 1964).

References:

  • Kingsbury, J. M. 1964. Poisonous plants of the United States and Canada. Prentice-Hall Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J., USA. 626 pp.
  • Muenscher, W. C. 1975. Poisonous plants of the United States. Revised. Collier Books, New York, N.Y., USA. 277 pp.

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