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SAMBUCUS nigra ssp. canadensis

Image of Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis

Jesse Saylor

Family

Caprifoliaceae

Botanical Name

SAMBUCUS nigra ssp. canadensis

Plant Common Name

American Elderberry

General Description

This eastern North American cousin of black elderberry is a medium to large, fast-growing, deciduous shrub. It is grown for its ferny pinnate foliage, large, musky-scented flower heads, and showy clusters of fruits. A wildlife magnet, it attracts butterflies with its flowers and wildlife with its fruit.

In late spring and summer, large flat-topped cymes of creamy flowers appear. They are followed in late summer by blue-black berries. The frond-like leaves are divided into 5 to 11 toothed elliptic leaflets. They emit a somewhat unpleasant odor when crushed. Among its cultivars is 'Aurea', which has attractive golden leaves.

Not fussy about soils, elderberries like a sunny spot and moderate moisture. American black elderberry fruits are often used in jellies or pies and also can be made into wine. For best fruiting, plant two or more cultivars in the shrub border or as a screen or backdrop. A hard pruning in spring will produce even larger showier foliage.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    9 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    4 - 9

  • Sunset Zone

    A1, A2, A3, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 14, 15, 16, 17

  • Plant Type

    Shrub

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    7'-12' / 2.1m - 3.7m

  • Width

    7'-12' / 2.1m - 3.7m

  • Bloom Time

    Late Spring, Early Summer, Summer

  • Native To

    Northeastern United States, Mid-Atlantic United States, Southeastern United States, North-Central United States, Central United States, Canada

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Average

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Pollution

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Ivory

  • Fruit Color

    Blue, Black

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Yellow Green

  • Bark Color

    Brown, Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    Yes

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    Yes

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Fruit / Fruit Tree, Hedges, Mixed Border, Screening / Wind Break, Wildflower

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    Sometimes

  • Attracts

    Birds, Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes