can somebody set me straight about elderberries?

Hello gardeners,
You guys have consistently given me good advice. I'm asking for more of the same. (Hey, I'd return the favor if I could. But you don't want my gardening advice. Really. If all gardeners and farmers were like me, the world would starve.)
I bought and planted an elderberry bush a few months ago. It's growing great, spreading like a weed, but not fruiting.
QUESTION 1. I have never heard of a fruitless elderberry, and didn't find that phrase on a web-search. So I'll assume that all elderberry plants are supposed to bear fruit. What should I do, to encourage my elderberry plant to fruit? It is all alone, so pollination might be an issue -- except it has barely flowered this year! Maybe it takes a year to get established?
QUESTION 2. Some people on this group say that elderberry is poisonous. (But some stores sell elderberry jelly, etc.) To quote Martin Tom Brown on this group from 1995:

So my question is: How do I tell whether my elderberry bush is poisonous, or beneficial, to humans?
THANK YOU FOR ALL REPLIES !!
Ted Shoemaker
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If it's anything like the Mexican elderberry I have, I'd say to plant it where you can have a huge grove. It spreads by underground runners and is relentless. If you just planted it, it needs to go through a cycle of dormancy, then it will flower and set fruit in spring for harvest.
I don't know about poisonous. The only reason I planted it was for the berry eating birds, then they pooped out the seeds and with a huge chain and my truck I yanked it out of the ground. I still get runners but if I keep them cut off the plant will eventually die.
On 9 Sep 2006 13:40:04 -0700, " snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com"

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If only the regressives chanted this instead, "The power of Google compels you!"
A good starting point. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elderberry
Plenty of reputable sites found with on Google. http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=elderberry

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I've been here for much longer than you and I think it's nice to give an answer now and then. I am not regressive, but you may be a snob.

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Snooze wrote:

Yes. I have often made use of google, babelfish, wikipedia, about.com, mapquest, amazon.com, online dictionaries, and plenty of other web tools.
However, part of the human experience is to interact with other humans. Because of that motivation, I *enjoy* giving and receiving advice and information. On this group, I do a lot of receiving, because what I have to offer gardeners is worthless. In other forums, I try to contribute.
In any event, if it bothers you to send advice, then don't. Just hit <DELETE>.
Ted Shoemaker
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Hi ted!
I like interaction with people as they can lead one down avenues not thought of.
Bill
--
S Jersey USA Zone 5 Shade
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Avoid elderberries species with red fruit growing in rounded, instead of flat clusters. They may make you sick. Hercules' club is a shrub or small tree with feather-compound leaves that looks a little like the common elderberry. It has flat clusters of poisonous, black berries, often arranged in a ring, and a short, unbranched, thorny trunk. Elderberries are thornless.
My grandmother had an elderberry tree (more like a clump of trees) in her backyard and I don't remember any suckering. She called it a Mai (Danish for the month of May) Tree. When it bloomed she always picked some of the blossom clusters to brew tea. She swore if you had a cup of Mai tree blossom tea every day for a week when it first started blooming you would stay healthy. She lived to 98, who knows, she may have been on to something.
When I lived in Montana I picked elderberries every year to make jelly and syrup, my neighbor made wine. All quite tasty.
Where did you get your elderberry bush? You say you bought it, can't you ask somebody where you bought it? Did it have a tag with a proper Latin name (not always an accurate source). If you want to be absolutely safe you could always wait till it bloomed and then take a branch to a nursery, extension agency, horticulture agent, master gardener, etc.
Val
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Everyone has made good suggestions. One thing that wasn't yet said directly here: One poster referred me to wikipedia. That article says that elderberry has a mild amount of cyanide, which is obviously unwise to eat, but can be safely removed by cooking. That, apparently, is why people can consume jelly, wine, tea, etc, but you never see fresh elderberries for sale in the grocery.
And of course, there are different varieties, which vary in their cyanide content.
Helpful comments from all. Thank you.
Ted Shoemaker
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