Red Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa var. arborescens)
The name refers to the bright red berries, not the flowers, which are white, as shown.
There are over 20 species of elderberries in the world, some with red, blue black and even white berries. The history of their use goes back to the ancient Greeks who used the berries and the flowers medicinally, and the Romans who used the berries as a hair dye. While the berries of most varieties are at least edible when cooked, Janie Hibler warns, in The Berry Bible, that the red variety causes stomach upset and should not be eaten. She also stresses that the roots, stems and wood of all Elderberries are poisonous, and should not be used to make tea. In Wildflowers of the Canadian Rockies, the authors note that children have been poisoned using the hollowed-out stems as blowguns. Deer, moose, elk and birds feed heavily on these berries (shown below).
Happy Holidays from NWWildflowers!