Common Elderberry (Canadensis) is generally described as
a perennial tree or shrub.
native to the U.S. (United States)
has its most active growth period in the
spring and summer .
Common Elderberry (Canadensis) has
green foliage and
white flowers, with
an abuncance of
conspicuous blue fruits or seeds.
The greatest bloom is usually observed in the
with fruit and seed production starting in the
spring and continuing until
not retained year to year.
Common Elderberry (Canadensis) has a
moderate life span relative to most other plant species and a
rapid growth rate.
At maturity, the typical
Common Elderberry (Canadensis) will reach up to
7 feet high, with a maximum height at 20 years of
Common Elderberry (Canadensis) is easily found in nurseries, garden stores and other plant dealers and distributors. It can be propagated by
bare root, container, seed.
It has a
moderate ability to spread through seed production and the seedlings have
Note that cold stratification is
not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive exposure to temperatures below
medium tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.
Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.
At least 50 species of songbirds, upland game birds, and small mammals relish the fruit of American elder during summer and early fall. White-tailed deer browse the twigs, foliage and fruit during the summer. American elder is outstanding as nesting cover for small birds. During summer, the partial shade under American elder promotes a dense ground cover of grasses and forbs that offers good loafing or feeding areas for broods of young pheasants and quail.
American elder can be used for erosion control on moist sites. It pioneers on some strip-mine spoils and may occasionally be useful for reclamation planting. It is very decorative when in bloom; elder flowers later than most shrubs. Elderberries are also attractive to makers of pies, jellies and wine.
The American elder is an erect, thicket-forming, somewhat woody shrub, 4-12 feet tall, with smooth yellowish-gray branchlets and white pith. Compound leaves are set oppositely in pairs in a feather-like arrangement. The leaf surface is bright green. The oval to lance-shaped leaflets are up to 6 long and 2 1/2 wide, with finely serrated margins. They are abruptly narrowed at the tip and lopsidedly narrowed or rounded at the base. Leaflets are usually held on short stalks; the terminal leaflet is on a longer stalk. Numerous 1/4 fragrant white flowers, emerge from late June into August. The terminal clusters of flowers, measuring 4-10 across, are broad, flat or slightly rounded and long-stalked. Flowers usually develop in the second-year on older canes, and are arranged in branched clusters of 5.
Fruits ripen from late July into September. They are round, slightly bitter, edible purple-black berries with crimson juice. Each is less than 1/4 across, borne in large clusters. Each berry contains 3-5 small seeds. Seed dispersal occurs from July to October, usually through vigorous ingestion by birds and mammals. There are about 230,000 seeds per pound.
Required Growing Conditions
American elder occupies well-drained, slightly acid soil bordering streams, and in the adjacent bottomlands, but also grows on gray forest soils and muck. This shrub is widespread and abundant. American elder grows best in full sunlight. Once established, elders soon outdistance herbaceous competition. Thickets of elder are replaced by more shade-tolerant species during the later stages of forest succession, but individual plants and small runners will persist under a forest canopy.
American elder is distributed primarily throughout the eastern and midwestern United States.
Cultivation and Care
American elder naturally reproduces from seeds, sprouts, layers, and root suckers. Variable degrees of hard-seededness and embryo dormancy are exhibited. Prior to spring or fall planting, the seed should be scarified with sulfuric acid, also stratification at 36-40 degrees F for two months is required for spring planting. Seedling growth is rather slow during the first year.Elders can also be propagated from 10” to 18” hardwood cuttings taken from vigorous one-year-old canes, each must include three sets of buds. Cuttings may be taken while dormant, placed in moist peat or sphagnum moss, and held in cold storage at approximately 40 degrees F for spring planting. One-year-old seedlings or rooted cuttings are usually large enough for field planting.
General Upkeep and Control
Mulching around each plant will improve seedling survival. Annual pruning will considerably improve fruit yield. Removal of terminal shoots and dead canes will reduce winter-kill and help control elder borers.
Cultivars, Improved, and Selected Materials (and area of origin) Seedlings or rooted cuttings are available commercially. Horticultural selections or local and regional ecotypes are marketed by nurseries.
Source: USDA, NRCS, PLANTS Database, plants.usda.gov.
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA