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Branch Harvest Hooks

Branch Harvest Hooks

These hooks are commonly used for gathering elderberries but they have many other uses. Experienced elderberry gatherers know how tall elderberry gets. Some bushes are between 8-10 feet in height. To our dismay, those graceful branches hold the deep blue treasures at the very top of the brittle branches. This is when elderberry collecting hooks come in handy.

Elderberry hooks are simple to make and if done right, durable enough for a number of seasons. These hooks are also useful when collecting other wayward fruit such as apples, pears or grapes. Any thing that grows over your head can be summoned gently to hand level.

This is a very important tool for gardeners with injuries that prevent them from reaching up high or getting onto ladders. It is helpful to elderly and/or alterable gardeners. It’s like having an extra pair of arms.

The best policy is to make 2 branch harvest hooks. You do not want to snap the branches that you are bending. Use one hooks in the middle of the branch to gently bend it downwards. Use the other hook to grasp the top part of the branch where the fruit/berries grow.

elderberry hooks in action

photo by Brooke Forsell

Once the fruit is harvested, let go of the top part of the branch first. Let the hook attached to the middle of the branch slowly up towards its natural position. With grace and finesse, the bush will be ready to produce more fruit next year.

As always, think carefully about how much elderberry you will need for the upcoming year. Don’t over-harvest this important wildlife food. Keep in mind that elderberry has to be processed quickly after picking. Plan your day accordingly.

The extra step of painting or wrapping the stick with duct tape saves the stick from being lost. Beginning harvesters think they would never lose track of their harvesting stick. Experienced harvesters know how easy it can be to put your stick down to clip a cluster of berries and discover that your favorite stick now looks like every other stick within a range of several acres.

Note: Harvest smart. Do not gather any herbs without knowing what it is. take a camera with you to document plants that you find that you want to learn about later. To learn more about elderberries before collecting, read our entry on elderberries.

harvest stick w grapesEquipment

  • Stick (5 or 6 feet in length)
  • Screw-in cup hook
  • Brightly colored duct tape or paint (red, orange or yellow)


  1. Select a stick about the width of a broomstick about 5-6 feet in length. Be sure that the stick is comfortable to hold.
  2. Sand off any splinters or sharp edges.
  3. Screw a cup hook to the end of the stick.
  4. Either paint the stick with the brightly colored paint or wrap the end of the stick with the brightly colored duct tape.

Sue Sierralupe

Sue Sierralupé is a Certified Master Herbalist, Master Gardener and Sustainable Landscape Specialist. She is the clinic manager and lead herbalist at Occupy Medical clinic. Sue is author of The Pocket Herbal: Medicinal Plants that Changed the World and co-author of The Practical Herbalist Herbal Folios series. Follow her blog at Herbalism Manifesto for commentary on herbs, parenting, nutrition and a whole lot more.

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