Family: Caprifoliaceae

Scientific Name: Sambucus nigra canadensis

Common Name: American Elderberry


American Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) A medium-size native shrub with white flowers and a plethora of fruit. Likes moist, full sun sites but tolerates average conditions.

Plant TypeShrubs Deciduous, Site author's observations
Hardiness Zone4-7
Sunlightfull to partial sun
Moistureprefers moist sites but will tolerate average, plants in my hard survived two seasons of growing in standing water during but this did cause damage to the plants but the suckered back from the base
Soil & SiteFound growing in open woodlands, moist areas such as ditches, moist meadows. Can be a shrubby invader of eastern prairies around rivers and flood plains.
Flowerssmall, white, have a musk fragrance and occur in rather flat topped umbels
Fruitplentiful, small purple drupes, used to make jams, jellies and wine, consumed by birds, also refered to as berry-like drupes
Leavesopposite, pinnately compound, green during the summer and a weak yellow fall color
Stemslong straight, hollow stems were used as arrows by native American's
Dimensions10-12 feet in height by equal spread (or larger), forms a medium to large rounded shrub, arches over when the branches are laden with fruit
Maintenanceplants have seeded all over in my gardens
Native SiteNative to moist prairies, ditches and along rivers.
Misc FactsSambucus is derived from the Greek word "sambuca" a string instrument was supposedly made from the wood of the elder. The brewed fruit was used as a laxative, headache medicine and salves of honey and elderberry were used on burns and minor skin problems. AKA: Common Elderberry, Elderberry
Author's NotesI have one of these growing in a fence line on my property. Unbelievable how much fruit this plant produces. When the plant is full of fruit it's a pain, I get whacked in the face every time I mow the lawn. The plants have endured an extremely wet growing season (2019-2020) and were growing in standing water for an extended period of time. Produced much less fruit this year. It will be interesting to see how they look in the 2021 growing season. In the 2021 season, there was lots of dieback of branches but the plants suckered from the bottom and are doing fine.
Notes & Reference#01-Manual of Woody Landscape Plants (Michael Dirr) , #63-How to recognize Shrubs (Grimm), #75-Encyclopedia of Nuts, Berries and Seeds (John Heinerman)
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