Sambucus racemosa (Red Elderberry)


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Plant Description: An upright deciduous shrub with a broad arching form and many branches. The bark is dark reddish/brown, coarse and covered in small blisters. Leaves are pinnately compound comprised of 5-7 elongated leaflets with toothed margins. Inflorescences are pyramidal shaped clusters of many small creamy white flowers. Berries are small, bright red fruits

The flowers and berries of this plant are edible, but the stems, bark, leaves, and roots contain cyanide-producing toxins so it is vital to use caution. Berries and flowers may be consumed after being cooked and are often used to make jams or wine. A common winter remedy, elderberry is also used for coughs, bronchitis, upper respiratory cold infections, fever, influenza, congestion, expectorant for dry coughs, and viral infections. *CONSULT A PROFESSIONAL FOR MEDICAL USE. NEVER CONSUME PLANTS WITHOUT PROPER ID*

  • Height: up to 20ft
  • Width: 6ft
  • Watering needs: Moderate to wet
  • Sun needs: full sun to shade
  • Soil needs: well-drained, tolerates a variety
  • Bloom Time: April-July
  • Ripening Time: July-August

Landscape Use and Ecological Function: This native plant is found in much of North America, usually in cooler and moist areas. It inhabits streambanks, ravines, swamps, and open logged areas at elevations from sea level to 9500 ft. This is a great plant for food forests as well as woodland and rain gardens. 

Sambucus racemosa provides food and cover for birds and is also attractive to pollinators. Additionally, it attracts predatory insects which eat insects that are commonly considered to be garden pests. The dense root system makes it useful for soil stabilization and erosion control on moist sites.

*1st & 3rd photos by SevenOaks Nursery*

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