Black elder

Sambucus nigra

Photo/Illustration: 
Steve Aitken
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Black elder (Sambucus nigra)
sam-BOO-kus NY-grah
Genus:  Sambucus
Black elder forms an upright and bushy, but somewhat coarse, shrub with toothed green leaves. It bears scented, flattened clusters of white flowers in early summer, which mature into glossy black fruit. It has given rise to many cultivars with notable foliage. Sambucus is a good choice for a quick growing shrub and is suitable for mixed or shrub borders or for naturalizing in wild areas. Birds love the fruits of this genus, which have culinary attributes when cooked, but can cause illness if eaten raw, or if the poisonous seeds are consumed. Contact with leaves may irritate skin.
Care:  Provide moderately fertile, moist but well-drained soil, in full sun to partial shade.  Sambucus may be pruned minimally to maintain a healthy framework, but it benefits from hard pruning to restict its size. 
Propagation:  Sow seed in a cold frame in the fall; take softwood cuttings in early summer.
Problems:  Powdery mildew, canker, dieback, rust, fungal leaf spots, borers, virus diseases.

Overview

Height
10 ft. to 15 ft.
Spread
15 ft. to 30 ft.
Growth Habit
Clumps
Growth Pace
Fast Grower
Light
Full Sun to Part Shade
Moisture
Medium Moisture
Maintenance
Low
Characteristics
Attracts Song Birds,
Attracts Butterflies,
Fragrant Flowers,
Showy Flowers,
Showy Fruit
Bloom Time
Early Summer,
Summer
Flower Color
White
Uses
Beds and Borders,
Flowering Tree,
Hedge,
Naturalizing,
Poisonous,
Roadside
Style
Cottage Garden,
Woodland Garden
Seasonal Interest
Summer Interest
Type
Shrubs

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