How to Identify Elderberry Pithy Wood


Elderberry pith is soft and malleable. Although it has largely been replaced by more modern materials, elderberry pith enjoyed a number of uses before those materials were available. It was often used to make small toys. The Danish soaked the pith in oil and used it as a candle wick. Some removed the soft pith and used hollowed-out elderberry canes as pipes or even pop guns.

Step 1

Identify a sizable elderberry stem. Grasp it between your fingers and squeeze it. If the twig is spongy and slightly resistant, there is healthy pithy wood inside.

Step 2

Prune the elderberry stem. Use a pair of sharpened, disinfected pruning shears and make the cut at the elderberry stem's point of origin.

Step 3

Examine the cut portion of the stem. Inside the thin ring of woody tissue there is a lighter-colored interior that fills the middle of the stem. This spongy material is the pith. In common elderberry, it is white. In red elderberry plants, it is brown.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears


  • Boerhaave Museum: Elderberry Pith Doll
  • Portrait of the Earth: Red Elderberry
  • Botanical: A Modern Herbal - Elder
  • University of Texas: Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis (L.) R. Bolli
Keywords: elderberry pith, pithy wood, flexible wood

About this Author

Emma Gin is a freelance writer who specializes in green, healthy and smart living. She is currently working on developing a weight-loss website that focuses on community and re-education. Gin is also working on a collection of short stories, because she knows what they say about idle hands.