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American ElderSambucus canadensis

  • American Elder shrub - Sambucus Canadensis
A fast-growing shrub that can be used as a border that will provide an incredible flowering display. Summer blooms are 6"-10" wide clusters of small, star-shaped yellowish-white flowers that accent the dark green leaves. Edible dark purple berries follow the flowers and provide food for dozens of bird species and other wildlife. Prune regularly to maintain its multi-stemmed form. Can be pruned into a single-stemmed small tree. Plant multiple shrubs for best fruiting. Likes moist to wet soils, but can tolerate some drought conditions. Plant in area with full sun or partial shade. Grows 5'-12" high, 5-12' wide.

Hardiness Zones

The american elder can be expected to grow in Hardiness Zones 4–9. View Map

Tree Type

Mature Size

The American elder grows to a height of 5–12' and a spread of 5–12' at maturity.

Growth Speed Fast Growth Rate

This shrub grows at a fast rate, with height increases of more than 24" per year.

Sun Preference

Full sun and partial shade are best for this shrub, meaning it prefers a minimum of 4 hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day.

Soil Preference

The American elder grows in acidic, loamy, moist, rich, sandy, silty loam, well-drained, wet and clay soils. It can tolerate some drought conditions.

Attributes

This shrub:
  • Grows in a rounded shape.
  • Should be pruned regularly to maintain its multi-stemmed form.
  • Blooms in the summer, producing small, star-shaped yellowish-white flowers in clusters 6–10" wide.
  • Yields edible dark purple berries August–September--good for jellies, pies, juice and wine. For best fruiting, plant multiple shrubs.
  • Features pinnately compound dark green leaves with 5–11 (typically 7) leaflets, each 2–6" long.
  • Can be pruned into a single-stemmed small tree.

Wildlife Value

The edible berries provide food for dozens of bird species and other wildlife.

History/Lore

It was introduced in 1761.