- Author: Aubrey Thompson
Can plants typically grown for hedgerows also be a source of income? That's the question guiding a new UC study on the potential for farmers to grow elderberries as a commercial crop.
Blue elderberry, a California native plant with clusters of small bluish-black berries and a sweet-tart flavor, have long been eaten by Native Americans in the western states and are used today in jam, syrups, wines and liqueurs. And while elderberry orchards are popping up in parts of the Midwest, California's elderberries are usually just grown on field edges, and elderberry products sold retail rely mostly on foraged crops or imports.
Will edible natives plants be a new food trend, the ultimate in eating locally? Antonio Sanchez at the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont hopes so. Among California native plants are many overlooked food sources, some with gourmet potential, according to Sanchez, production manager at the garden. As an added bonus, edible natives are often low-water users that look great in landscapes. He recently gave UC Master Gardeners in Los Angeles County an overview of edible natives, and had them taste some of his favorites, including his recipe for