European dwarf elder
Sambucus nigra flori bgiu.jpg
Danewort inflorescence
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Dipsacales
Family: Adoxaceae
Genus: Sambucus
S. ebulus
Binomial name
Sambucus ebulus
  • Ebulum humile (Mill.) Garcke
  • Sambucus herbacea Gilib.
  • Sambucus humilis Mill.
Dwarf elder berries

Sambucus ebulus, also known as danewort, dane weed, danesblood, dwarf elder or European dwarf elder, walewort,[2]dwarf elderberry,[3]elderwort and blood hilder, is a herbaceous species of elder, native to southern and central Europe and southwest Asia. The species is a well-established archaeophyte in much of the UK,[4] and is also reportedly naturalized in parts of North America (New York, New Jersey and Québec).[5]


Sambucus ebulus grows to a height of 1–2 m and has erect, usually unbranched stems growing in large groups from an extensive perennial underground stem rhizome. The leaves are opposite, pinnate, 15–30 cm long, with 5-9 leaflets with a foetid smell. The stems terminate in a corymb 10–15 cm diameter with numerous white (occasionally pink) flat-topped hermaphrodite flowers. The fruit is a small glossy black berry 5–6 mm diameter. The ripe fruit give out a purple juice.[2][6]

The name danewort comes from the belief that it only grows on the sites of battles that involved the Danes.[2] The term 'walewort' or 'walwort' meant 'foreigner plant.' The plant's stems and leaves turn red in autumn and this may explain the link with blood. The word Dane may link to an old term for diarrhoea.[2]


"Dwarf elder (Sambucus ebulus L) is one of the best known medicinal herbs since ancient times. In view of its benefits as a widely applicable phytomedicine, it is still used in folk medicine of different parts of the world. In addition to its nutritional values, dwarf elder contains different phytochemicals among which flavonoids and lectins are responsible for most of its therapeutic effects. Dwarf elder has been used for different ailments including: joint pains, cold, wounds, and infections."[7][8]


  1. ^ The Plant List
  2. ^ a b c d Westwood, Jennifer (1985). Albion. A Guide to Legendary Britain. London : Grafton Books. ISBN 0-246-11789-3. p. 103
  3. ^ "Sambucus ebulus". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 28 October 2015.
  4. ^ "Elder (Dwarf) / Dwarf Elder / Danewort - Wild Flower Finder".
  5. ^ BONAP (Biota of North America Project) floristic synthesis, Sambucus ebulus
  6. ^ Clapham, A.R., Tutin, T.G. and Warburg, E.F. 1968. Excursion Flora of the British Isles. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0 521 04656 4[page needed]
  7. ^ Jabbari, Marzie; Daneshfard, Babak; Emtiazy, Majid; Khiveh, Ali; Hashempur, Mohammad Hashem (October 2017). "Biological Effects and Clinical Applications of Dwarf Elder (Sambucus ebulus L): A Review". Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine. 22 (4): 996–1001. doi:10.1177/2156587217701322. PMC 5871274. PMID 28397551.
  8. ^ Vogl S, Picker P, Mihaly-Bison J, et al. (October 2013). "Ethnopharmacological in vitro studies on Austria's folk medicine—An unexplored lore in vitro anti-inflammatory activities of 71 Austrian traditional herbal drugs". Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 149 (3): 750–71. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2013.06.007. PMC 3791396. PMID 23770053.

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