• AGM plants

    AGM plants have been through a rigorous trial and assessment programme. They are:

    • Excellent for ordinary use in appropriate conditions
    • Available to buy
    • Of good constitution
    • Essentially stable in form & colour
    • Reasonably resistant to pests & diseases

Sambucus nigra

common elder

common elder

© RHS 2002

  • Other common names common elder
    acte

    arn tree
    black elder
    boon tree
    boor tree
    bore tree
    bour tree
    bur tree
    elderberry
    European elder
    European elderberry
    pipe tree
    black elderberry

    see more
  • Family Adoxaceae

  • 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

  • Details 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

  • Plant range Europe N Africa SW Asia

Characteristics

  • Foliage Deciduous

  • Habit Bushy

  • Fragrance Flower

  • Toxicity All parts may cause discomfort if ingested although the berries can be edible if cooked

  • Hardiness

    Hardiness ratings

    All ratings refer to the UK growing conditions unless otherwise stated. Minimum temperature ranges (in degrees C) are shown in brackets

    • H1a - Under glass all year (>15C)
    • H1b - Can be grown outside in the summer (10 - 15)
    • H1c - Can be grown outside in the summer (5 - 10)
    • H2 - Tolerant of low temperatures, but not surviving being frozen (1 to 5)
    • H3 - Hardy in coastal and relatively mild parts of the UK (-5 to 1)
    • H4 - Hardy through most of the UK (-10 to -5)
    • H5 - Hardy in most places throughout the UK even in severe winters (-15 to -10)
    • H6 - Hardy in all of UK and northern Europe (-20 to -15)
    • H7 - Hardy in the severest European continental climates (< -20)

    H6

Colour

Sunlight

  • Full Sun

  • Partial Shade

  • Aspect South-facing or North-facing or West-facing or East-facing

  • Exposure Exposed or Sheltered

Soil

  • Chalk

    Chalk

  • Clay

    Clay

  • Sand

    Sand

  • Loam

    Loam

  • MoistureMoist but well-drained

  • SoilChalk, Clay, Sand, Loam

  • pHAcid, Alkaline, Neutral

Size

  • Ultimate height 4-8 metres

  • Ultimate spread 2.5-4 metres

  • Time to ultimate height 10-20 years

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 Low Maintenance Hedging & Screens Coastal Wildlife Gardens

How to care

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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