American elderberry

(Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not yet assessed

American elderberry

NatureServe

N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked

Minnesota

not listed

Wetland
Indicator
Status

Great Plains

FAC - Facultative

Midwest

FACW - Facultative wetland

Northcentral & Northeast

FACW - Facultative wetland

Nativity

Native

 
Occurrence

 

 
Habitat

Moist to wet. Meadows, floodplains, marsh edges, streams. Full sun to light shade.

 
Flowering

Early July to mid-August

     
Flower Color

White

     
Height

5 to 12

     

Identification

This is a fast growing, short lived, shrub rising on multiple stems from shallow roots and stolons. Individual plants usually live 3 to 5 years and are replaced by new plants rising from the same rootstock.

The stems are erect or arching, branching, hairless, up to 12 tall, and up to 3½ in diameter at breast height. They are brittle, weak, and dotted with conspicuous, large, raised, warty bumps (lenticels). First year stems and twigs are green, smooth, and sometimes covered with whitish, waxy bloom (glaucous). Second year stems and twigs are grayish or yellowish-brown, woody, and rough.

The twigs are stout. The area of cells in the center of the stem (pith) is large, encompassing more than half of the diameter of the twig. The pith is pure white in both first-year and second-year twigs. Lateral buds are reddish-brown, small, cone-shaped, and somewhat depressed. There are no terminal buds.

The leaves are opposite, deciduous, and pinnately divided into usually 7, occasionally 5 or 9, sometimes 11, leaflets. They are attached to the twig on a 1¼ to 2¾ long leaf stalk. The upper surface of the leaf stalk is channeled. The channel is hairy but the leaf stalk is otherwise hairless.

The leaflets are lance-shaped to egg-shaped or elliptic, 2 to 4¾ long, and 1 to 2¼ wide. They are either stalkless or are attached to the central leaf stalk (rachis) on a leaflet stalk no more than ¼ long. They are rounded or tapered and symmetrical at the base and taper to a point at the tip with concave sides along the tip. The terminal leaflet is often somewhat larger than the lateral leaflets. The upper surface of the leaflet is dark green, and sparsely hairy, at least along the midvein. The lower surface is pale green and hairy along the veins. The margins have fine, sharp, forward-pointing teeth.

The inflorescence is a branched, 3½ to 7 wide cluster (cyme) at the ends of the stems and branches. The cymes are flat-topped and much wider than long. They rise on erect, 2 to 5½ long stalks that branch at the tip into 5 rays. Each cyme has 200 to 400 small flowers.

The flowers are about ¼ wide. There are 5 white petals and 5 stamens with white filaments and yellow anthers. The flowers have a musty fragrance. They appear in early July to mid-August.

The fruit is a juicy, globular berry, about ¼ in diameter, containing 3 to 5 seeds. It ripens in early August to mid-September turning dark, blackish-purple.

 
Similar
Species

Nannyberry (Viburnum lentago) has undivided (simple), hairless leaves. The inflorescence is smaller, 2 to 4 wide, and round-topped.

Red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa var. racemosa) second year twigs have brown pith. The leaves usually have 5 leaflets, occasionally 7. The leaf stalk is hairy on all surfaces. The leaflets are asymmetrical at the base and are more coarsely toothed. The inflorescence is smaller, pyramid-shaped or egg-shaped, not flat-topped. It blooms from June to July. Mature berries are bright red.


Distribution Distribution Map   Sources: 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 28.

Comments

 


Taxonomy

Family:

Adoxaceae (moschatel)

 
Synonyms

Sambucus canadensis

Sambucus canadensis var. laciniata

Sambucus canadensis var. submollis

Sambucus cerulea var. mexicana

Sambucus mexicana

Sambucus orbiculata

Sambucus simpsonii

 
Common
Names

American black elderberry

American elder

American elderberry

blue elder

common elder

common elderberry

elder

elderberry

Mexican elderberry


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

cyme

A branched, flat-topped or convex flower cluster in which the terminal flower opens first and the outermost flowers open last.

 

glaucous

Pale green or bluish gray due to a whitish, powdery or waxy film, as on a plum or a grape.

 

lenticel

A corky, round or stripe-like, usually raised, pore-like opening in bark that allows for gas exchange.

 

pinnate

Having the leaflets of a compound leaf arranged on opposite sides of a common stalk.

 

pith

The spongy cells in the center of the stem.

 

rachis

The main axis of a compound leaf, appearing as an extension of the leaf stalk; the main axis of an inflorescence.

 

stolon

An above-ground, creeping stem that grows along the ground and produces roots and sometimes new plants at its nodes. A runner.

       

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Inflorescence

  American elderberry   American elderberry
       
  American elderberry    
       

Flowers

  American elderberry    
       

Leaves

  American elderberry   American elderberry
       

Infructescence

  American elderberry   American elderberry
       
       

 

Camera

     

Slideshows

   
  American Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis)
Andree Reno Sanborn
 
  American Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis)  
 
About

The fruit is safe but all other parts of the plant are poisonous. For jam, pies, wine.

 
     
  Sambucus canadensis (Common Elder)
Allen Chartier
 
  Sambucus canadensis (Common Elder)  

 

slideshow

     

Visitor Videos

   
Share your video of this plant.

     
     

Other Videos

 
  Wild Edibles 25: Elderberry Juice (Sambucus canadensis)
Journey Outdoors
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Aug 28, 2011

How to identify common elderberry and how to make elderberry juice. The elderberry is very nutritious and is also used as an antiviral to fight the flu but you must boil the berries first.

 
     
  elderberry (Sambucus nigra (syn. S. canadensis)
UFInvasivePlantsEDU
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on May 19, 2010

Aquatic and Invasive Plant Identification Series by the UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants ( http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu ) and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, Invasive Plant Management Section.

For more information about elderberry, go to http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/node/397

Video editor/videographer - Phil Chiocchio

 
     
  Sambucus canadensis Elderberry
QuipTV
 
   
 
About

Published on Oct 10, 2012

Sambucus canadensis

Common Name: American elder . elderberry

Type: Deciduous shrub

Zone: 3 to 9

Native Range: Eastern North America

5'-12' H & W

Bloom Time: June to July

Bloom Color: White

Sun: 4+ hours

Water: Medium to wet

Maintenance: High

Flowers: Showy Flowers, Fragrant Flowers

Fruit: Showy Fruit, Edible Fruit

Wildlife: Attracts Birds, Attracts Butterflies

Tolerates: Clay Soil, Wet Soil

Uses: Erosion Control, Rain Garden

 
     
  Elderberries at Cricket Hill Garden
Cricket Hill Garden
 
   
 
About

Published on Jun 24, 2013

American Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) is an attractive edible landscape plant for temperate climates. A native plant, its produces beautiful flowers much loved by native pollinators and delicious purple berries that can be made into tinctures, teas, pies, and wines. In this video, Dan Furman of Cricket Hill Garden introduces the growth habit, history, and some of the virtues of this worthy shrub.

 
     

 

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