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Sambucus canadensis is often confused with:
Sambucus nigra Sambucus nigra 'Variegata'
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Viburnum nudum Viburnum nudum
Asimina triloba Asimina triloba
Itea virginica Itea virginica

Elderberry Sambucus canadensis

Other plants called Elderberry:

Previously known as:

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

American Elderberry is a native thicket-forming shrub that can be found in all areas of NC along streams, marshes, moist forests and disturbed areas. It may grow 9 to 12 feet tall, is somewhat woody and has an arching spreading form. The compound leaves are attractive and in summer, small white flowers are borne in dense clusters. Flowers are followed by a purple-black drupe that is produced in drooping clusters in late summer to fall. 

The American elderberry tolerates a wide variety of wet to dry soils but prefers rich, moist, slightly acid soil in sun to partial shade. Use this plant in naturalized areas, as a hedge, or along streams and ponds. It can also be used for erosion control in moist sites.

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 / Varieties:
  • 'Aurea'
  • 'Rubra'
Tags:
#fragrant#deciduous#poisonous#rain garden#wildlife plant#showy#weedy#native shrub#riparian#wetlands#playground#food source#NC native#dye plant#edible garden#food source summer#food source herbage#food source nectar#food source pollen#food source soft-mast fruit#fruits#bird friendly#butterfly friendly
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Aurea'
  • 'Rubra'
Tags:
#fragrant#deciduous#poisonous#rain garden#wildlife plant#showy#weedy#native shrub#riparian#wetlands#playground#food source#NC native#dye plant#edible garden#food source summer#food source herbage#food source nectar#food source pollen#food source soft-mast fruit#fruits#bird friendly#butterfly friendly
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Sambucus
    Species:
    canadensis
    Family:
    Adoxaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    The twigs and fruit have been used to create dyes for basketry. Stems used to make flutes and whistles.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    North America, Venezuela and Brazil
    Distribution:
    USA: AL , AR , AZ , CA , CO , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , HI , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , MT , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NM , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , TX , VA , VT , WI , WV , WY Canada: MB , NB , NS , PE , QC
    Fire Risk Rating:
    medium flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    Butterflies and other insects are attracted to the blooms. Its fruits are eaten by mammals and many species of songbirds. It makes an excellent nesting site for birds and provides cover for quail and pheasants. Deer browse the leaves, twigs and fruit.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Edible fruit
    Wildlife Cover/Habitat
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Resistant to heat, drought, and soil compaction.
    Edibility:
    Cooked berries are edible and can be used in pies, pancakes, and jellies; flowers and fruits used in winemaking, marmalade, yogurt, and desserts.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 9 ft. 0 in. - 12 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 6 ft. 0 in. - 12 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Poisonous
    Shrub
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Arching
    Multi-stemmed
    Open
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Wet
    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:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Drupe
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Clusters of round, edible, purplish-black drupes display from June to August. Each berry is 1/4 inch across, contains 3-5 seeds and is borne in large drooping clusters.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Cream/Tan
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Star
    Flower Petals:
    6 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Many 1/4 inch fragrant creamy-white flowers appear in 4-10-inch flat-topped to rounded clusters from April to July. Blooms on second-year wood.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Lanceolate
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Bright green compound leaves with 4-6 pairs of opposite leaflets and 1 terminal leaflet. They are oval to lance-shaped and up to 6" long and 21/2" wide, with finely serrated margins. They are abruptly narrowed at the tip with a broadly wedge-shaped base. Fall color is yellow-green.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Brown
    Surface/Attachment:
    Smooth
    Bark Description:
    The bark of older woody stems is light grayish brown and warty in appearance from scattered short lenticels
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    Young woody branches are light grayish brown with scattered lenticels. Young shoots are light green.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Pond
    Riparian
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Edible Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Rain Garden
    Design Feature:
    Barrier
    Flowering Tree
    Hedge
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Hummingbirds
    Pollinators
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Erosion
    Wet Soil
    Problems:
    Poisonous to Humans
    Problem for Horses
    Weedy
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    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