Family • Caprifoliaceae / Adoxaceae - Sambucus javanica Blume - SWEET ELDER - Lu ying

Scientific names

Sambucus javanica Blume.
Sambucus formosana  Nakai
Sambucus chinensis Lindl.
Sambucus hookeri Rehder
Sambucus thunbergiana Blume
Jie gu cao (Chin.)

Other vernacular names

CHINESE: Shuo huo, Lu ying.
FRANCE: Hieble

Common names

Balabo (Buk.)
Galamat (Ig.)
Kalako (Buk.)
Kalamat (Ig.)
Lulamat (Ig.)
Sauco (Sp.)
Sauko (Tag.)
Chinese elder (Engl.)
Elderberry (Engl.)
Elder flowers (Engl.)
Sweet elder (Engl.)
Javanese elder (Engl.)

Gen info
Sambucus is a genus with 5 to 30 species of shrubs or small trees. Formerly in the honeysuckle family, Caprifoliaceae,it was reclassified and placed into the moschatel family, Adoxaceae. Two of the species are herbaceous. Sauko is sometimes called the “bridal bouquet.”


Sauko is a shrub or small, widely spreading tree up to 4 meters in height. Leaves have 3 to 8 pairs of opposite leaflets and a terminal leaflet. Leaflets are thin, oblong-lanceolate, 5 to 20 centimeters long, 1.3 to 5 centimeters wide, pointed at both ends, toothed on the margins. Flowers are small, cream-white, on terminal clusters (compound umbels), 15 to 30 centimeters wide.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Sambucus / Wapedia

(2) Traditional Chinese herbal remedies for asthma and food allergy / Li X M / J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2007 Jul;120(1):25-31. Epub 2007 Jun 8.

(3) Sambucus javanica – Rein. / Chinese Elde/ Plants For A Future

(4) Medication combination for hepatoma and pancreatic cancer and preparation protocol /FreePatentsOnLine

(5) Sambucus / Titi Tudorancea Bulletin / English Edition, Oct 7, 2010

(6) Study on the chemical constituents of Sambucus chinensis Lindl. / Liao QF, Xia SP, Chen XH, Bi KS / Zhong Yao Cai. 2006 Sep;29(9):916-8.

(7) Research on active part of Sambucus chinensis against hepatitis mice induced by CCl4 / Zhu SX, Liao QF, Wang XS, Qiu YW, Yang W, Zhu Q / Zhong Yao Cai. 2008 Aug;31(8):1216-9.

(8) Study on the chemical constituents of Sambucus chinensis Lindl. / Liao QF, Xie SP, Chen XH, Bi KS. / Zhong Yao Cai. 2006 Sep;29(9):916-8.

– In primary forests, chiefly at medium altitudes, ascending to 2,000 meters.
– Also occurs in old clearing, damp thickets, etc.
– In most or all provinces of Luzon, Mindoro, Catanduanes, Leyte, Negros, Panay, Mindanao.
– Also found in India to China and Malaya.

– Roots reported to contain chlorogen acid.
– Study yielded flavonoids, phenolics, and alkaloids.
– Study on Sambucus chinensis yielded 5 compounds: beta-sitosterol, oleanolic acid, ursolic acid, kaempferol-3-O-beta-D-(6-O-acetylglucopyranosid)-7-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside, and kaempferol-3-O-beta-D-glucopyranosid-7-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside.

– Crushed twigs and leaves are rather foetid.
Sauko3– Acidic-tasting, neutral-natured.
– Depurative, diuretic, discutient, emetic, alterative, emollient, purgative, rubefacient.
– Root antirheumatic, antiphlogistic, soothes muscles and invigorates circulation.
– Stem and leaves sudoforic and diuretic.

Parts used
· Roots, leaves, and stem.
· May be collected throughout the year.
· Rinse, macerate, sun-dry.

– Fruits, raw or cooked.
– Flowers, raw or cooked.
– Leaves and young stems, cooked.
– Roots, cooked.

Common now on the lower to middle elevations of Kinabalu. Sambucus (javanica) locally rimbundahan

· In Mindanao the plant is considered a remedy for fatigue.
· Leaves and roots used for diseases of the bones, rheumatic complaints, pains and paresthesias. Boil leaves, bark, berries and flowers (40 g) to a pint of boiling water; drink the tea twice daily. Also used for coughs, tonsillitis, asthma.
· Decoction of fruit used for injuries, skin diseases and swellings.
· In Indo-China used as depurative, diuretic and purgative.
· Poultice of leaves, berries and flowers can be applied to aching parts; also, for breast swelling
· Rheumatic muscular and bone pains, sprains: use 30 to 60 gms dried roots in decoction.
· Nephritis-edema, beriberi edema: use 12 to 25 gms drug material from entire plant in decoction.
· Pruritus: use decoction of entire plant applied as external wash.
· In China, decoction used for hepatitis, infectious diarrhea and tonsillitis.
· Leaves, stems and roots used for treatment of wounds.
· In Indonesia, used to relieve pain, reduce swelling and improve the circulation. Used for beri-beri, jaundice, chronic rheumatism.

Toxicity concerns
: Although no toxicity has been reported for this specie, some members of the genus have reported toxicity with leaves, seeds, stems and roots, attributed to a cyanide producing glycoside. Ingested in sufficient amounts, a toxic build up of cyanide may occur. Fruits of other species have been reported to cause stomach upsets. Any toxin the fruit might contain is likely of low toxicity destroyed with cooking.

Study Findings
• Shuodiao / Hepatoma and Pancreatic Cancer Combination Medication: 5-9% constituent of a medicine preparation being studied for hepatoma and pancreatic cancer, derived from the young branches and leaves of the Chinese plant Shuodiao.
• Chemical Constituents: Study of S. chinensis isolated 5 compounds: beta-sitosterol, oleanolic acid, ursolic acid,kaempferol-3-O-beta-D-(6-O-acetylglucopyranosid)-7-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside, and kaempferol-3-O-beta-D-glucopyranosid-7-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside.
• Hepatoprotective: Extraction of S. chinensis by 75% alcohol showed very significant protective effect on mice against acute hepatic injury induced by carbon tetrachloride.

Ornamental cultivation.