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Sambucus canadensis

Phonetic Spelling
sam-BOO-kus kan-ah-DEN-sis
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Sambucus canadensis is a deciduous, somewhat sprawling, suckering shrub that typically grows to 5-12’ tall. It typically occurs on streambanks and in forests, moist woodlands,  or open woods.  It can become weedy in disturbed areas such as fields, thickets, fence rows, ditches, and roadsides.

The American elderberry grows best in medium to wet, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. It tolerates a wide range of soils but prefers moist, humusy ones. It spreads by root suckers to form colonies. Prune suckers as they appear unless naturalizing. A large number of late winter pruning options include (a) pruning out dead or weakened stems, (b) shortening one year stems or (c) cutting back to the ground to rejuvenate. Some horticulturists recommend a hard spring pruning for maintaining the best foliage and habit.

American elder (Sambucus canadensis) and European elder (Sambucus nigra) are closely related plants. The Royal Horticultural Society currently lists American elder as Sambucus nigra var. canadensis.

CAUSES ONLY LOW TOXICITY IF EATEN.

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems: This plant has no serious insect or disease problems. It has some susceptibility to canker, powdery mildew, leaf spot, borers, spider mites, and aphids. Its branches are susceptible to damage from high winds or from heavy snow/ice in winter. Plants will spread by root suckers.

Cultivars:
  • 'Aurea'
  • 'Rubra'
Tags:
#native#fragrant#butterflies#deciduous#songbirds#rain garden#edible#wildlife plant#showy#riparian#wetlands#low flammability#fire resistant
Cultivars:
  • 'Aurea'
  • 'Rubra'
Tags:
#native#fragrant#butterflies#deciduous#songbirds#rain garden#edible#wildlife plant#showy#riparian#wetlands#low flammability#fire resistant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Sambucus
    Species:
    canadensis
    Family:
    Adoxaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Edible fruit
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern North America
    Fire Risk Rating:
    low flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    Butterflies and other insects are attracted to the blooms. Its fruits are eaten by many species of songbirds.
    Play Value:
    Wildlife Enhancement
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    fire in the landscape and also moderately resistant to damage from deer.
    Edibility:
    Cooked berries edible in pies, pancakes, and jellies; flowers and fruits used in winemaking. SAFE HANDLING PROCEDURES: When flowers are open, pick whole clusters and dip in pancake batter and fry, or dip in pancake batter and fry as fritters. Elderberry juice can be used as a cold drink. SOURCE: Peterson, L. 1978/ A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 330 pp.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 5 ft. 0 in. - 12 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 5 ft. 0 in. - 12 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Poisonous
    Shrub
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Arching
    Multi-stemmed
    Open
    Spreading
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Purple/Lavender
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Drupe
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Clusters of edible, purplish-black drupes in developing in late summer. Fruits of elderberry species are used to make jams, jellies, pie fillings and wine.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Cream/Tan
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Star
    Flower Petals:
    6 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Tiny, lemon-scented, creamy-white flowers that appear in large flat-topped clusters (cymes to 10” across) in June.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The American elderberry has opposite, course, compound dark green leaves, 5 to 11 leaflets, sharply serrated. It shows a yellow-green fall color.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Brown
    Surface/Attachment:
    Smooth
    Bark Description:
    smooth and brown becoming shallowly furrowed and rough with age
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Riparian
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Native Garden
    Rain Garden
    Design Feature:
    Flowering Tree
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Songbirds
    Problems:
    Poisonous
    Weedy
  • Poison:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, coma
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Cyanogenic glycoside and alkaloid
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Fruits
    Leaves
    Roots
    Stems