Now a word about the potential risks and benefits associated with Aralia spinosa. Some Indigenous Americans and early Europeans settlers referred to the plant as “toothache tree,” but they valued the plant for much more than just treating toothaches. Today, however, it is rarely considered more than a decorative shrub. And as far as I can tell, there is not a single modern study on any medicinal aspect of Aralia spinosa. In light of this total lack of scientific research, it is at least interesting to look at some of the traditional and folk uses of the plant. Whether or not there is any truth to these uses is questionable.
The famous compendium A Modern Herbal, published by Mrs. M. Grieve in 1931, says that Aralia’s fresh bark induces vomiting, but the dried bark acts as a stimulant. She also mentions that a tincture made from the berries is good for tooth pain. In fact of all its purported medical uses, relieving toothaches seems to be the most common I encountered. Another popular one was rheumatism: both Grieve and Benjamin Strobel, in his 1826 work The Medical Properties of the Aralia Spinosa, or Prickly Ash, mention the plant’s effectiveness against rheumatism. Strobel mentions its emetic action as well, but considers this rather superfluous. Medicine had a long way to go in the early 19th century, but apparently they thought they had the whole “how-to-make-people-blow-chunks-thing” figured out pretty well.
I also found occasional mentions of the plant treating skin conditions, respiratory problems, and rattlesnake bites, among other things. But as far as peer-reviewed research goes… crickets.
- Elderflower & Elderberry
- Elderberry tree identification
- Can You Eat Elderberries?
- What Are the Benefits of Elderberry?
- What Are the Benefits of Elderflower?
- How to Harvest Elderflower
- How to Harvest Elderberry
- How to Dry Elderflowers
- How to Make Elderflower Tea
- Where Can You Find Elderberries?
- Elderberry Recipes and Uses
- How to Tell the Difference Between Elderberry and Pokeweed
- Sambucus nigra ‘Haschberg’
- Elderberry Bushes
- Edible Landscaping – Edible of the Month: Elderberry
- Identifying Characteristics of the American Black Elderberry (Sambucus nigra canadensis).
- Shop my Elderberry Collections @ Elderberry Edge Farm
- Sambucus Black Lace Elderberry
Elderflower & Elderberry
- Elderberry tree identification
- Can you eat elderberries?
- Benefits of elderberry
- Benefits of elderflower
- How to harvest elderflower
- How to harvest elderberry
- How dry elderflowers
- How to elderflower tea
- Where can you find elderberries?
Elderberry tree identification
Common elderberry or American elder (Sambucus nigra L. ssp. canadensis or just Sambucus canadensis) is a shrub that’s commonly found throughout most of North America. Its characteristic cream-colored flowers, or elderflowers, are often seen on the road-side in late spring and early summer.
The flowers grow in umbels, which are sort of umbrella-shaped clusters. The umbels are normally six inches or so in diameter.
Once the elderflowers, also called elderblow, are finished, they yield to clusters of small dark purple berries that ripen mid-summer to early fall.
Elderberry trees have opposite, elongated, toothed leaflets that are three to four inches long.
Leaves, stems, bark and roots are toxic, so it’s important to be vigilant about not including any of these when processing elderberries or elderflowers. The berries, bark and leaves have been used traditionally in medicinal preparations.
Watch out for Hercules’ club which has similar leaves and berries — the berries are poisonous. Hercules’ club’s berry clusters are flat instead of round, and the stems are covered in thorns, while elderberry stems are smooth.
Can You Eat Elderberries?
Cooked ripe elderberries are perfectly edible. Unripe elderberries are poisonous. Raw berries can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, among other symptoms, so be sure to cook them before eating. Cooking the berries also improves their flavor.
Elderberries can be baked into pastries, cooked into a syrup or dried for later use.
See our elderberry syrup recipe for a sweet, homemade cold season tonic.
The only edible parts of the elderberry tree are the berries and flowers.
What Are the Benefits of Elderberry?
Elderberries have long been used as a go-to remedy for treating and preventing all kinds of ailments. Here are a few peer-reviewed studies that corroborate what folk healers have known for ages.
Reducing duration of cold symptoms:
(Elderberry Supplementation Reduces Cold Duration and Symptoms in Air-Travellers: A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial)
“Travellers using elderberry from 10 days before travel until 4–5 days after arriving overseas on average experienced a 2-day shorter duration of the cold and also noticed a reduction in cold symptoms. “
Antioxidant for disease prevention:
(The Phenolic Contents and Antioxidant Activities of Infusions of Sambucus nigra L.)
“The results of this study suggest that elder beverages could be an important dietary source of natural antioxidants for the prevention of diseases caused by oxidative stress.”
(Elderberry flavonoids bind to and prevent H1N1 infection in vitro.)
“The Direct Binding Assay established that flavonoids from the elderberry extract bind to H1N1 virions and, when bound, block the ability of the viruses to infect host cells.”
(A systematic review on the sambuci fructus effect and efficacy profiles.)
“Several in vitro studies together with two exploratory studies in humans and one open study in chimpanzees indicate that the aqueous elderberry extract Sambucol may be useful for the treatment of viral influenza infections.”
(The Traditional Plant Treatment, Sambucus nigra (elder), Exhibits Insulin-Like and Insulin-Releasing Actions In Vitro)
“Although elder has been long advocated as an effective traditional plant treatment to counter the symptoms of diabetes…, scientific studies to evaluate its efficacy and possible mode of action are lacking. The present study reports for the first time that elder flowers contain water-soluble natural products which directly stimulate glucose metabolism by muscle and promote insulin secretion from clonal pancreatic β-cells.”
“Sambucus nigra therefore represents a possible dietary adjunct for the treatment of diabetes and a potential source for the discovery of new orally active agent(s) for future diabetes therapy.”
(Effects of Sambucus nigra and Aronia melanocarpa extracts on immune system disorders within diabetes mellitus.)
“Natural polyphenols extracted from S. nigra and A. melanocarpa modulate specific and non-specific immune defenses in insulin-deficiency diabetes and reduce the inflammatory status and self-sustained pancreatic insulitis.”
(Antidepressant activities of Sambucus ebulus and Sambucus nigra.)
“Our report indicated the S. ebulus and S. nigra. extracts were safe and showed remarkable antidepressant activity in FST and TST in mice. These results introduced these plants as easily accessible source of natural antidepressant.”
Here’s a great video about the virtues of Elder by Rosemary Gladstar, one our favorite herbalists.
What Are the Benefits of Elderflower?
Elderflower shares some of the same healing properties as elderberries and has a few of its own. Here’s some peer-reviewed research on some of those properties.
(Traditional Elderflower Beverages: A Rich Source of Phenolic Compounds with High Antioxidant Activity)
“The results confirmed that elderflower beverages (sabesa, syrup) should be recommended as a good source of phenolics in human diet.”
Potential breast cancer treatment:
(Effects of Phytoestrogen Extracts Isolated from Elder Flower on Hormone Production and Receptor Expression of Trophoblast Tumor Cells JEG-3 and BeWo, as well as MCF7 Breast Cancer Cells)
“Our results clearly demonstrate beneficial features of EFE in the setting of hormone receptor-positive breast cancer MCF7 cells by inhibition of estrogen secretion, downregulation of Erα, and upregulation of PR. Decreased local and circulating estrogen concentrations are certainly considered an advantage in treating breast cancer. In that view, EFE could be related to reduced tumor cell proliferation, possibly suggesting a protective effect on breast cancer. Nevertheless, the results and the conclusions made must be interpreted with caution as this is an in vitro cell culture study. In this setting, the use of plant extracts instead of chemically pure agents may be advantageous as it may more accurately reflect the effects of phytoestrogen-rich diets.”
(Effect of Phenolic Compounds from Elderflowers on Glucose- and Fatty Acid Uptake in Human Myotubes and HepG2-Cells)
“The main findings from these studies are that elderflower extracts, their constituents and the corresponding flavonoid metabolites showed a major effect on the enhancement of glucose uptake and oleic acid uptake in human liver cells and human skeletal muscle cells.”
“Elderflower constituents and metabolites also act as strong antioxidants and might play an important role in the controlling of postprandial hyperglycemia by strong inhibition of α-glucosidase and α-amylase. The antidiabetic properties found in phenolics from elderflower increase the nutritional value of this plant as a functional food against diabetes.”
How to Harvest Elderflower
Harvest the flowers when they appear or leave them on the tree and come back for elderberries later. Less-traveled country roads are good places to forage for elderflowers and elderberries but stay away from busy roads (more about that in our foraging guidelines).
To harvest elderflowers, cut off flower heads with scissors, keeping in mind that flowers develop into berries and harvesting them will detract from berry production.
As a side note, call us superstitious, but we always ask permission before harvesting elderflower or berries. Actually, we do that for everything but this is an old tradition with the Elder tree.
How to Harvest Elderberry
What’s tricky is getting to the berries before the birds get them, because they really start to disappear once they’re ripe.
The best way to make sure you get to them before they’re gone is to drape mesh or netting over the flowers. Be sure to leave space between the netting and the flowers to prevent berry damage from penetrating birds’ beaks.
I always try to leave plenty for the wildlife that depends on elderries for food, taking only what I will reasonably use.
The process of harvesting the berries is basically the same as harvesting the flowers. Simply cut off the stems with scissors and put in a paper bag.
If you feel like doing something monotonous and meditative, then painstakingly pick every berry from its stem.
But if you’d like to get on with your day, put your paper bag full of elderberries in the freezer for an hour or so until the berries are completely frozen.
Then, making sure the bag is closed, shake it up a bit to help loosen the berries. For the berries that still aren’t loose, just rub them away from the stems with your hands.
You can then put the berries into a bucket of water to help separate any debris that may be mixed in. Then pour off the water.
You can use the berries right away, freeze them, or dry them to use later.
Ripe elderberries on the tree
How to Dry Elderflowers
Elderflowers can be used fresh or dried for later use. To dry, either lay the fresh flower heads on a piece of cardboard or hange them in a well-ventilated shady, dry area.
They’re ready for storage when they can be easily brushed off of the stems. Store in air-tight glass jars or something similar.
How to Make Elderflower Tea
Elderflower is naturally sweet and makes an excellent floral tea that really doesn’t need any added sweetener.
To make tea from fresh elderflowers, boil a pot of water and add two to four freshly cut elderflower heads to steep for 10 minutes.
If you’re using dried elderflower, steep two teaspoons in a cup of boiled water for ten minutes.
Where Can You Find Elderberries?
The Common elderberry grows throughout most of the United States.
It’s a really versatile tree that thrives in a variety of conditions, but it loves areas with lots of moisture and nitrogen. Look for it along streambanks, in damp woods, open fields, old homestead sites, and power line cuts.
While the elderflowers are blooming in late spring/early summer, it’s easy to spot them growing in thickets along the road.
NRCS/PLANT database Common elderberry range map
Elderberry Recipes and Uses
I just discovered this awesome video about making elderberry syrup with Sylvie Doré of Redwood Fairy Herbs & Ferments.
You can also check our our “super-charged” elderberry syrup recipe (complete with echinacea and turkey tail mushrooms) or just use this simple recipe:
6 cups water
1 cup dried elderberries or 2 cups fresh elderberries
1 cup honey
In a medium-sized sauce pan, water and elderberries, bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer, covered, for 30 to 40 minutes.
Remove from heat, strain out the seeds, and stir in honey (mixture should still be warm but not boiling).
Set aside to cool, pour into jars or bottles, and refrigerate for up to 3 months. Syrup can also be frozen in ice cube trays or plastic containers and stored for up to a year.
Elderflower Cordial Recipe
Elderflower cordial is a drink that dates back as far as the Roman Empire — an ancient soft drink.
Traditionally, it’s mixed with carbonated water before drinking, but this recipe makes a naturally bubbly sparkler — no carbonated water needed.
We love making a big batch so that we can preserve and enjoy summer into the colder months.
Elderflower cordial, served with fresh strawberry juice
3 1/2 cups caster sugar
2 cups hot water
4 large fresh elderflower heads
2 TBL white wine vinegar
juice or rind of 1 lemon
7 pints water
Fresh strawberry juice (optional)
Mix sugar and hot water.
Pour mixture into large glass container.
Add remaining ingredients and stir well.
Cover and let sit at room temperature for 5 days.
Strain liquid into sterilized screw- or flip-top bottles and let sit another week.
Serve cold and garnish with lemon, strawberry, and/or mint. Add fresh strawberry juice for flavor and color.
How to Tell the Difference Between Elderberry and Pokeweed
You can figure out the difference between Elderberry and Pokeweed by looking a few of the visible characteristics of each which I’ll detail here.
A student of mine recently brought in a branch with purple berries. I am familiar with Pokeweed but not elderberry in the wild. It is so important to double and triple check plant ID’s when in the woods. If you are not sure, please don’t eat them and be careful with children too.
Elderberry: Sambucus nigra
I have included pictures of a lookalike, Pokeweed, Phytolacca americana. Though the flowers are different, the purple berry and red stems can be easily confused with elderberry. The berries of pokeweed are NOT edible and can cause a very bad stomach ache and should not be eaten be children. The young shoots in early spring, 6” tall or less can be eaten as a pot herb. Foraged greens like pokeweed need to be boiled two or three times to make the green palatable. Pokeweed is typically shorter than elderberry, easily bent and can be invasive. I always recommend folks to check 3-5 field guides when identifying a plant and to check with someone who can verify the plant before consuming.
Pokeweed, Phytolacca americana, ( on the right) is easily found in our forests and wooded areas. It too likes to hang out at the forest edges. The berries have shorter stems, are closely attached to the main stem and again are not edible. They are used however to make a natural dye. Naturopathic physicians use the root of pokeweed in their practices. Because it is potent you will not find poke root easily in most health food stores.
The flowers of both are white in the early spring but are very different. Here is a photo of the elder flower to your left and pokeweed on your right.
Two plants that look alike can easy be mixed up. Spring is a good time to test your knowledge of identifying these two flowering shrubs, small trees.
In the meantime, consider elderberry for your home medicine chest.
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Judith Dreyer, MS, BSN, Writer, Speaker, and Workshop Presenter, Master Gardener. At The Garden’s Gate – Available Online! Purchase Now | Find on Amazon
Sambucus nigra ‘Haschberg’
Elder shrubs prefer partial shade to full sun, with higher yields in more sun. It’s best to irrigate them in summer if they are not planted within sight of a creek or pond.
The berries are renowed as a nutritive anti-viral and immune system tonic. We like to make a honey-based syrup from dried berries to help out with the fall and winter cold season. A tea of the flowers is a gentle anti-pyretic diaphoretic that helps encourage sweating and natural fever relief for kids and adults alike. Don’t forget that a poultice of the leaves makes an external antiseptic vulnerary to speed the healing of bruises and wounds. So much medicine from such a beautiful plant!
American elderberries (Sambucus canadensis) are native to the Midwest and are more vigorous than black European elderberries (Sambucus nigra). Both are planted commercailly for medicinal berries. The berries of the Oregon native blue elderberry (S. cerulea) also make wonderful medicine, and they are more drought tolerant than other varieties. Don’t accidentally mistake red elderberries (S. racemosa) for any of the edible and medicinal varieties – they are not safe to consume.
This PDF journal article provides a detailed comparison of both European and American elderberry varieties in field trials in Corvallis, OR.
As the old saying goes, “When you find your homestead, first plant an elderberry, then build your house.”
The Elderberry bush or shrub is native to the United States and they are grown throughout the country. There are approximately 20 to 30 species of elderberries in the genus Sambucus. Elderberries have been grown for the bluish-black fruits. The fruits are used in wines, juices, jellies and jams. The elderberry is also grown for its ornamental value in the landscape. Elderberry varieties have colorful leaves and unique shapes to beautify the landscape. Elderberry bushes can tolerate different soil conditions but they do not tolerate drought conditions. Plant the elderberry bush in well drained, loamy soil.
Elderberry bushes are pest resistant and they grow quickly to make a good privacy screen. Start pruning elderberry bushes when they are 3 to 4 years old. Cut them back if the plant gets to be too large for the location. Remove dead canes and cut 1 or 2 overly thick canes each year during the winter. Remove canes that are older than 3 years. This will encourage new growth and more fruitful canes. We offer several varieties of elderberries and they are listed below.
Edible Landscaping – Edible of the Month: Elderberry
Clusters of black elderberries ripen in midsummer. They can be used for making jams, jellies, pies, and wine.
Elderberries are one of the easiest and most versatile shrubs to grow in your edible landscape. These Central European and North American natives are often found growing wild along roadsides, forest edges, and abandoned fields.
The prize for growing elderberries is the fragrant, edible flowers and the delicious fruits. The dark purple berries contain vitamins A and B, and more vitamin C than oranges. They are also high in cancer-fighting antioxidants. In fact, elderberry fruits have historically been used to treat many ailments, such as respiratory problems, colds, and flus. Plus, they are tasty when used in juices, jellies, jams, teas, pies, and wine. You can use the umbrella-shaped, elderberry blossoms for making a delicious fritters or even champagne (see recipe in this issue). And if you don’t want to eat the berries, the birds certainly will love them.
‘Black Beauty’ elderberry combines the easy-to-grow qualities of wild elderberries with handsome black foliage and attractive pink flowers.
Not only do elderberries produce attractive 8- to 10-inch-diameter white flowers and clusters of small, dark purple fruits, there are newer varieties on the market that have colorful leaves, too. These varieties of elderberry were bred for the ornamental characteristics, but still produce useful flowers and fruits. They make great shrubs for a foundation planting or in a mixed perennial flower border.
The two most common types of elderberries available are the European elderberry (Sambucus nigra) and the American elderberry (Sambucus canadensis). The American elderberry is the wild species often found growing in old fields and meadows. It grows 10 to 12 feet tall and wide and is hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8. The European elderberry grows up to 20 feet tall and wide depending the variety, blooms earlier than the American species, is hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8, and some have pink flowers. The red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa) is similar to the American species, but produces bright red berries — unfortunately these berries are poisonous and shouldn’t be eaten.
Elderberries fruit best when you plant at least two different varieties within 60 feet of each other. They start producing when the plants are 2 to 3 years old. While all elderberries produce berries, there are several varieties of the American elderberry that are especially good fruit producers. If you looking for a more ornamental elderberry, look to the European varieties with their attractive foliage.
‘Black Lace’ elderberry is a diminutive shrub with black cutleaf foliage reminiscent of Japanese maple leaves.
Here are some of the best selections to try in your yard.
- ‘Adams’ – This American variety grows 8 to 10 feet tall. The large, juicy, dark purple fruits ripen in August and are great for making pies. The strong branches hold the berries upright. Plant a pollinator variety such as ‘Johns’ for maximum fruiting. This variety is often sold as ‘Adams No. 1’ or ‘Adams No. 2’. There is little difference between these two selections.
- ‘Black Beauty’ – This striking European variety features purple foliage and lemon-scented pink flowers. It grows 6 to 8 feet tall and wide and can be grown in perennial borders or as a foundation plant.
- ‘Black Lace’ – This eye-catching European selection looks like a Japanese maple with its dark purple, deeply cut foliage. Like ‘Black Beauty’, this variety also grows 6 to 8 feet tall and wide, producing pink flowers and dark purple fruits.
- Johns’ – This early-producing American variety produces an abundance of berries that are especially good for making jelly. Growing 12 feet tall and wide, this variety is a good pollinator for ‘Adams’.
- ‘Nova’ – This American variety can be self-fruitful, but does best with another American elderberry growing nearby. Large, sweet fruit are produced on compact, 6-foot shrub.
- Variegated’ – This European variety has attractive green and white leaves and grows 6 to 8 feet tall and wide. The plant is less vigorous and productive than other elderberry varieties, but the foliage is attractive all season long.
- ‘ York ‘ – This American variety produces the largest berries of all the elderberry selections. It matures in late August and only grows 6 feet tall and wide. It pollinates ‘Nova’ well.
Elderberries grow well in full- to part-sun locations. They are not fussy about soil type, but grow best in a slightly acidic soil that is high in organic matter and stays consistently moist. Some of the European varieties may die back to the ground in colder climates, but will resprout from the roots in spring.
Before planting amend the soil with compost. Although elderberries grow well in moist soils, it’s a myth they can grow in poorly drained, wet soils. On heavy clay soils, consider building a raised bed to provide proper water drainage. Set shrubs out in spring, spacing plants 6 to 10 feet apart depending on the variety.
Elderberries grow best when fertilized annually with compost. They have shallow roots, so mulch around the plants with hay, straw, or bark chips to control weeds that compete for water and nutrients.
Elderberry flowers are flat, white, and large, and can be used to make a delicious champagne or a soothing bath.
Elderberries can sucker freely and send up vigorous new branches each season. These one-year-old branches produce side branches (laterals) that fruit heavily in the second and third year. In late winter, prune out branches more than 3 years old since these are less productive. Try to leave equal numbers of one-, two-, and three-year-old branches. Prune out any dead, diseased, or broken branches as well.
There are few significant insect pests and diseases of elderberries. Cane borers can infect older branches, so the above pruning guidelines also help control borers, too. During wet weather, leaf diseases sometimes affect the foliage, but they aren’t a serious concern. Birds love the berries, and you’ll need to cover the shrub with netting to keep them from quickly harvesting your crop.
Harvest elderberry fruit from August to September, depending on the variety. Let fruits ripen on the shrub to a dark purple color. Prune off the entire cluster when ripe and strip the berries into a bowl. The fruit doesn’t store well at room temperature, so keep it refrigerated after harvest and process the berries as soon as possible. You can expect yields of 12 to 15 pounds of fruit per mature (3- or 4-year-old) shrub, if grown properly. Uncooked berries produce a dark purple juice and are astringent and inedible, but when processed impart a sweet, earthy flavor.
Shannon Lauderdale ~ Elderberry Edge Farm 12/18/2015
This type of elderberry is a species native to a large area of North America east of the Rocky Mountains, and south through eastern Mexico and Central America to Panama. It can grow in a variety of conditions including both wet and dry soils, primarily in sunny locations. The American Black Elderberry is deemed hardy in zones 3-8.
Identifying Characteristics of the American Black Elderberry (Sambucus nigra canadensis).
• Identify American Elderberry by Stems and Branches
You can identify an elderberry plant by the characteristics on the stems and branches. So even if it is not berry or flower season you will know. The first year of growth on the plant will be green stems. Growth older than a year will have bark. Each elderberry plant typically has a mixture of both green stems and branches with bark. The plant usually stands about 3-8 feet high and is dependent on plant age. The most prominent difference that will help you to identify the elderberry by the stems and branches alone is the bumps on the woody bark. If you look closely at the woody stems you will notice many tiny bumps. The older, bigger stems will also have vertical furrows, similar to stretch marks. An elderberry plant older than a year can be identified by its bush or shrub-like appearance and it should have several branches coming from near the base.
• Identify American Elderberry by Leaves
Elderberry can be identified by the characteristics on the leaves, which are oblong and have ‘sawtooth’ sharply serrated edges. They are arranged in opposite pairs with 5 to 7 leaves on each stem. The veins of the leaf are most prominent as they leave the lighter green midrib. The veins tend to fade off and narrow as they reach the edge of the leaf and there is NOT the noticeable characteristic of the vein ending in the valley of the sawtooth edges.
• Identify American Elderberry by Flowers
Elderberry identification is by far the easiest in the flower stage. The elderberry plant produces a flattened cluster of up to 10 inches in diameter of tiny creamy white flowers. The flowers have rounded tipped petals and there are five petals for each tiny flower. There will typically also be 5 thin white filament tubes arising from near the center of the flower and ending in a pale yellow tip although there may be only 3 or 4 tips arising from the interior of the flower. Flowers typically bloom the first week of June at my farm in Missouri.
Flowers from my farm are dried and made into this delicious herbal tea. • Elderberry Identification ~ Berries
Elderberry berries start out as flowers and then change from green to deep purple/ blackish berries when ripe. Although it is easy to identify an elderberry in berry stage, elderberry plants are not always easy to spot in the berry stage because they blend in with the scenery. From flowers to ripe berries takes about 6-8 weeks. Berries ripen in late July and August in MO. The elderberries are about 1/8th of an inch in diameter or the size of a BB. The tip of the rounded berry will have a bump where it was formed from the flower. The taste is a bit tart and they are not to be eaten RAW, more than a few can make you nauseous. Berries grow in a flat cluster up to 10 inches in diameter. Elderberries are easily confused with other berries which may be poisonous always make sure what you think is an elderberry IS an elderberry plant and always cook elderberries before consuming.
Berries from my farm are used in making this unique elderberry herbal tea.
Shop my Elderberry Collections @ Elderberry Edge Farm
No type of elderberry should be consumed raw or without first checking with your Doctor.
Sambucus Black Lace Elderberry
Black Lace Sambucus Elderberry Fruiting Trees
Sambucus Black Lace Elderberry shrubs are a stunning development in Elderberry breeding. Intense purple black foliage is finely cut, gives this small growing tree an effect similar to that of Japanese maples. Some landscape designers are using the Black Lace in place of the more sensitive acer varieties since this cultivar is extremely durable and extremely adaptable.
The Black Lace Elderberry is a small flowering tree that produces creamy pink flowers in spring contrasting nicely with the dark leaves. The flowers are followed by blackish red fall berries which can be harvested for making elderberry wine and jam, or left on the plant to attract birds and other wildlife.
Sambucus Black Lace is very cold hardy and easy to grow, and adaptable to most sites. Plant with the companion plant Lemony Lace Sambucus. Full sun is needed for the best color. This colorful shrub can be used as a dramatic accent plant, planted en masse for a trouble free tall hedge, or incorporated into the mixed or perennial border. Left alone the Sambucus Black Lace™ Elderberry will reach up to 8 feet in height, but it can also be pruned back each year to fit into more formal settings.
Black Lace™ Sambucus nigra ‘Eva’ PP: 15575 Can. Can.: 2633
Planting Elderberry Trees
Growing Tips for elderberry plants:
Best in moist soil although will tolerate dry soils. Thrives under acid or alkaline soils. Best if pruned immediately after blooming. Plants set flower buds the summer prior to blooming. Best with high moisture. Deciduous shrub. Fertilize in early spring by applying a slow release fertilizer specialized for trees and shrubs. Follow the recommended rate of application.
Foliage Color: Attractive, finely cut, dark purple-black Fall Color: Remains the same color Size: 6 – 8 feet high and wide with age. Can be easily maintained as a smaller plant or trained into a small tree Exposure: Full sun for best foliage color Soil: Best in moist soil although will tolerate dry soils. Thrives under acid or alkaline soils.
In Zones 4 and colder it can behave like a perennial in and die back in the winter. Simply cut cut back any dead branches, as you would with a perennial. It quickly grows to form a nice plant the following spring. In Zones 5 and warmer it grows like a typical shrubs, although hard pruning every few years results in a fuller, bushier plant. Forms its flower buds in later summer and then flowers in early June. The best time to prune is it after it blooms, from mid-June to mid-August. Stop pruning in mid-August to allow time for the flower buds to form prior to winter.
Moist soils but becomes more drought tolerant with maturity.
Uses for Sambucus Black Lace Elderberry Shrubs: Groupings or masses, perennial or shrub borders, specimen, screens, roadsides, naturalizing, near boggy or wet gardens. Fruit is edible and good for jellies, pies, juice and wine. The Sambucus Black lace gets confused with a lot with folks thinking that this could be a new kind of lace leaf Japanese maple it is that showy. However, if you live to far north to grow the Japanese maples you will delight in planting this show stopper for your garden.
According to the Humane Society of American Sambucus leaves, bark, roots, and buds can be toxic to pets. This is means that the plants are generally identified as having the capability for producing a toxic reaction.