It is a large, deciduous shrub, which can grow to be 9 metres (30 ft) in height and 6 metres (20 ft) in width. It is distinguishable from other elderberries by the glaucous powder coating on its bluish-black berries. It normally grows rather wildly from several stems. The leaves are hairless, strongly pointed and sharp-toothed. They are elliptical to lanceolate, and the blade extends unequally on the stalk at the base. The leaves are commonly 3 - 15 cm (1 - 6 in) long and 2 - 6 cm (1 - 2.5 in) wide. The white or creamy coloured flowers, occurring May to June, are numerous and form a flat-topped cluster usually about 5 - 20 cm (2 - 8 in) wide. They are umbel-shaped, normally with 4 to 5 rays extending from the base. The flowers have a strong, unpleasant odor. Individual flowers are 4 - 7 mm wide. The fruits given are berry-like drupes. They are juicy, round, and approximately 4 - 6 mm in diameter. They are bluish-black appearing as a pale powdery blue colour. Each fruit contains 3 to 5 small seed-like stones, each enclosing a single seed.
The indigenous peoples of North America, with the plant in their homelands, used the leaves, blossoms, bark, roots, and wood for preparing traditional medicinal remedies, taken internally or applied externally. The fresh, dried, and cooked berries were used for food. Some tribes used the wood to make musical instruments, such as flutes, clappers, and small whistles; and smoking implements. Soft wood was used as a spindle "twirling stick" to make fire by friction. Stems and berries were used as a dye for basket weaving materials.
Santa Catalina Mountains.
Location: In front of house beside road at trailhead.
Note: Berries on Mount Bigelow 9/8/16
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