Sambucus canadensis

Sambucus canadensis: A Versatile and Native Elderberry

Sambucus canadensis, commonly known as American Black Elderberry or Common Elderberry, is a multi-stemmed deciduous shrub that belongs to the Adoxaceae family. It is native to North America and is closely related to Sambucus nigra. This versatile plant is valued for its attractive foliage, fragrant flowers, and edible fruits. Here is some information on growing Sambucus canadensis:

Sambucus canadensis, commonly known as American Black Elderberry, Common Elderberry, Canada Elderberry, American Elder, Common Elderberry, Black Elder, Mexican Elderberry, Elderberry, Tapiro, Sauco, Sambucus nigra subsp. canadensis, or Sambucus mexicana, is a multi-stemmed deciduous shrub belonging to the Adoxaceae family. Native to North America, this suckering shrub features arching, spreading branches with bright green, sharply serrated leaves composed of 7 leaflets. Sambucus is believed to have roots in the Latin name for a type of harp, while the specific epithet “canadensis” refers to its origin in Canada. It is worth noting that while the flowers and ripe fruit are edible, the leaves, stems, seeds, and roots of Sambucus canadensis are toxic, and the bark has been used as an insecticide.

Description: Foliage, Flowers, and Fruits

Sambucus canadensis typically grows up to 10 feet or 3 meters tall. The pinnate leaves are composed of up to nine opposite and serrated leaflets, giving them an elegant appearance. In early to mid-summer, large flat clusters of tiny white flowers with a lemony fragrance adorn the shrub. These flowers attract pollinators and add beauty to the garden. Later in the season, Sambucus canadensis produces clusters of dark purple or black elderberries. The berries are edible when cooked and are often used to make jams, jellies, and elderberry wine. They are also a valuable food source for wildlife.

Cultivating Sambucus canadensis: Guidelines for Success

Light: Sambucus canadensis grows best in full sun to partial shade. While it can tolerate a range of light conditions, providing it with at least six hours of direct sunlight each day promotes healthy growth and abundant flowering.

Soil: Plant Sambucus canadensis in medium-to-wet, well-drained soil. It is adaptable to various soil types but prefers moist, humus-rich soils. Proper drainage is important to prevent waterlogged conditions, which can be detrimental to the plant’s health.

Watering: Once established, Sambucus canadensis is relatively drought-tolerant. However, regular watering, especially during dry periods, will help maintain optimal growth and fruit production. Ensure that the soil remains evenly moist but not overly saturated.

Pruning: Prune Sambucus canadensis in late winter or early spring to remove any dead or weakened stems. This helps maintain the plant’s overall health and appearance. You can also choose to prune back one-year-old stems or perform more severe rejuvenation pruning by cutting the shrub back to the ground. This rejuvenation pruning encourages vigorous new growth.

Pests and Diseases: Sambucus canadensis is generally resistant to pests and diseases. However, occasional issues with aphids and verticillium wilt may occur. Regular inspection and appropriate measures, such as insecticidal soap for aphids or proper sanitation for verticillium wilt, can help mitigate these problems.

Additional Tips:

  • Sambucus canadensis can spread by root suckers and form colonies. If you prefer to control its spread, prune or remove suckers as they appear.
  • The flowers of Sambucus canadensis, known as elderflowers, are edible and can be used in various culinary preparations, including teas, syrups, and desserts.
  • It is important to note that while the ripe fruits of Sambucus canadensis are edible, the leaves, stems, seeds, and roots of the plant are toxic to humans and animals. Exercise caution and ensure proper handling and cooking of the fruits if using them for consumption.

By following these guidelines, you can successfully grow Sambucus canadensis and enjoy its beautiful foliage, fragrant flowers, and edible fruits. This native shrub provides ecological benefits by attracting pollinators and serving as a food source for wildlife. Its versatility, resilience, and ornamental value make Sambucus canadensis an excellent choice for naturalized areas, hedges, or as a specimen plant in your garden.

Sambucus canadensis
Sambucus canadensis
Sambucus canadensis
Close-up of the flowers of Sambucus canadensis
Sambucus canadensis
Sambucus canadensis at Mudchute Park and Farm, Isle of Dogs, London, UK

How useful was this?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

Share This Page: