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Sambucus canadensis


General Information

Elderberry is an easy-to-grow, sprawling, suckering, deciduous, multi-stemmed arching shrub or small tree. Elderberry will form thickets if the root suckers are not removed.

Elderberry is typically found along streams and in marshes, moist forests, and disturbed areas. Elderberry prefers full sun to partial shade and rich, well-drained soils.

Elderberry has showy, fragrant, white to cream-colored flowers and blooms around June. Elderberry blooms on second-year wood.

Elderberry fruit are edible when cooked and can be used in pies, pancakes, and jellies. Flowers and fruits are also used in winemaking, marmalades, and yogurt.

Plant Information

Plant Type:

Deciduous shrub

Sun Preference:

Full Sun * Part Sun

Soil Moisture Preference:

Medium-Wet * Medium * Medium-Dry

Plant Height:

6 to 10 feet

Plant Width:

4 to 6 feet

Plant Spacing:

3 to 5 feet

Flower Color:


Flower timing:

June to August

Culture Information:

Elderberry works best in naturalized areas, as a hedge and in woodlands because it spreads freely by suckering. It is effective for erosion control on most sites.

When first planted, Elderberry should be watered weekly for first few months, unless at least an inch of rain has been received in the last week to help it get established. After it becomes established, Elderberry appreciates watering during extended dry periods.

Elderberry is best maintained by thinning (removing entire old canes) since pruning old wood reduces flower and flowering is most prolific on 1-2 year-old shoots. The current year’s growth can be prunes to control height/shape of the plant (these stems will flower the next year).


Wet Soil
Clay Soil

Pests & Disease:

Elderberry is susceptible to Borers, Spider Mites, and Aphids.

Elderberry has some susceptibility to Canker, Powdery Mildew, Leaf Spot.

Elderberry has a low toxicity to humans and horses caused by Cyanogenic glycoside and alkaloids. Poison Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and coma.

Elderberry is weedy, and its branches are susceptible to damage from high winds and heavy snow or ice in winter.

Wildlife Use:

Pollinators: Elderberry attracts bees and butterflies and other pollinators.

Birds: Songbirds consume the fruits of Elderberry. Branches provide a habitat for nesting birds and cover for quail and pheasants.

Mammals: Deer browse Elderberry’s leaves, twigs and fruit. Mammals eat its fruits.

Other: N/A.

Native to:

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