What’s In a Name? Is It "Elderberry," or "Elder Berry"?
You’ve seen it written both ways—so which is correct: elderberry, or elder berry?
“I really like this question,” says Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director, American Botanical Council (ABC; Austin, TX). “And there’s certainly no shortage of opinions on the issue.”
ABC’s Botanical Adulterants Prevention Program (BAPP) published a review on elderberry adulteration in its journal HerbalGram in 2021, and the discussion therein noted that “sources disagree about the use of the common name elder versus elderberry,” Blumenthal says.
Historically, it appears that elder served as a descriptor for different plant parts—as in elder berry, elder flowers, elder leaves, et al. And while the compound terms elderberry and elderflower do see wider use among industry and the public today, the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) Dietary Supplements & Herbal Medicines (DSHM) Nomenclature Joint Subcommittee actually currently recommends referring to the plant’s fruit as elder berry, Blumenthal says.
“However,” he continues, “industry members appear to prefer the term elderberry, despite this leading to some inconsistencies in the terminology.”