Sambucus nigra is widely found in Europe, western Asia, and North Africa growing naturaly and is often cultivated. It is naturalised in North America where the native species is S. canadensis .
European elder is a shrub or small tree growing to a height of about 10m (33ft) ; American elder grows to a height of about 4m (13ft). The branches of the plant have a brownish grey corky bark, and there is a large proportion of soft, light, whitish pith. Its leaves have 5 – 7 toothed leaflets. The creamy white elderflower gives rise to purplish black fruit. Herbal products are normally obtained from the flowers.The natural health benefits of elderberries and elderflower is by no means a modern discovery, with a long history of traditional use among European herbalists documented since ancient times in the writings of Dioscorides, Hippocrates and Pliny the Elder. In recent years dietary supplements and other natural health products containing extracts, juices or syrups of European elder have become popular in America as remedies for the treatment of cold and flu symptoms, marketed primarily through natural food stores alongside other popular herbal remedies used for treatment or prevention of upper respiratory tract infections and other symptoms associated with colds and flues.