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American Elderberry

American elderberry flowers
Photo credit: Fredlyfish4, cc-by-sa

American Elderberry
(Sambucus nigra canadensis)


  • 5 to 12 feet


  • May to July


  • Native
  • Shrub


  • Full sun to part shade

Soil moisture:

  • Medium to wet

Provides food for:

  • Honey bees (flowers)
  • Native bees (flowers, stems for nesting sites)
  • Birds (fruits)
  • Squirrels (fruits)


  • Flowers only produce pollen; no nectar
  • Fruit commonly picked and made into a variety of food products
  • Commonly used in traditional herbal medicines
  • May sucker and form thickets
  • May be trimmed after fruit matures to maintain shape and size
  • Formerly considered a distinct species with the scientific name Sambucus canadensis; currently considered a subspecies of the black elderberry (Sambucus nigra nigra)
  • This is the wild-type, native variety; many cultivars have been developed and are available in more traditional nurseries

Native Range:

USDA range map for American elderberry
Map credit: USDA Plants Database

Relevant Backyard Ecology Resources: