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Sambucus nigra

common elder [2]

S. nigra is bushy large shrub or small tree to 6m, with pinnate leaves turning pale yellow in autumn, flat sprays of fragrant cream flowers in early summer followed by small black berries

Other common names
acte
arn tree
see moreblack elder
black elderberry
boon tree
boor tree
bore tree
bour tree
bur tree
elderberry
European elder
European elderberry
pipe tree

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Size
Ultimate height
4–8 metres
Time to ultimate height
10–20 years
Ultimate spread
2.5–4 metres
Growing conditions
Chalk
Clay
Loam
Sand
Moisture
Moist but well–drained
pH
Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Colour & scent
StemFlowerFoliageFruit
Spring Green
Summer Cream Green
Autumn Yellow Black
Winter
Position
  • Full sun
  • Partial shade
Aspect

South–facing or North–facing or East–facing or West–facing

Exposure
Exposed or Sheltered
Hardiness
H6
Botanical details
Family
Viburnaceae
Native to the UK
Yes
Foliage
Deciduous
Habit
Bushy
Potentially harmful
All parts may cause discomfort if ingested although the berries can be edible if cooked. Wear gloves and wash hands after handling
Genus

Sambucus can be herbaceous perennials, deciduous shrubs or small trees, with pinnate leaves and umbels or panicles of small creamy-white flowers followed by red, white or black berries

Name status

Correct

Plant range
Europe N Africa SW Asia

How to grow

Cultivation

Easy to grow in moderately fertile, humus-rich, moist but well-drained soils and also thrives on extremely chalky sites

Propagation

Propagate by softwood or hardwood cuttings

Suggested planting locations and garden types
  • Wildlife gardens
  • Coastal
  • Low Maintenance
  • Hedging and screens
Pruning

Pruning group 1. Will tolerate hard pruning to restrict the size

Pests

Can get blackfly and glasshouse red spider mite

Diseases

May be subject to verticillium wilt

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