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The Plant Guide

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Black elder

Sambucus nigra 'Madonna'

sam-BOO-kus NY-grah Audio

This choice specimen livens up the garden all season long with its stunning leaves of green splashed with gold. It bears flattened, creamy white flowers that mature into glossy black fruit. It grows more slowly than most elderberries. It makes an attractive specimen.

Noteworthy CharacteristicsSambucus is suitable for mixed or shrub borders, or for naturalizing in wild areas. The fruits of this genus have culinary attributes when cooked, but can cause illness if eaten raw, or if the poisonous seeds are consumed.

CareGrow in moderately fertile, moist but well-drained soil, in full sun to partial shade; this cultivar benefits from afternoon shade. Sambucus may be pruned minimally to maintain a healthy framework, but it benefits from hard pruning to restrict its size. If desired, cut back annually to within 2 or 3 buds from a permanent framework.

PropagationSow seed in a cold frame in the fall; take softwood cuttings in early summer and hardwood cuttings in winter.

ProblemsPowdery mildew, canker, dieback, rust, fungal leaf spots, borers, virus diseases.

  • Genus : Sambucus
  • Zones : 5, 6, 7
  • Plant Height : 6 to 10 feet
  • Plant Width : 6 to 10 feet
  • Characteristics : Fragrant Flowers, Showy Foliage, Showy Fruit
  • Light : Full Sun to Partial Shade
  • Maintenance : Low
  • Moisture : Medium Moisture
  • Plant Type : Shrubs
  • Growth Rate : Slow
  • Plant Seasonal Interest : Spring Interest
  • Bloom Time : Summer
  • Flower Color : White
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