Elderberries - Black (American) Elderberry - Sambucus canadensis, Red (Scarlet) Elderberry - S. pubens

Native Shrubs ... in wildlife landscaping

West Virginia Native Plant Society
West Virginia Nongame Wildlife Program

  Form: Open, many stemmed, broad rounded shrub with spreading and arching branches, to 5 to 15 feet tall.
  Twigs: Black - Stout, yellow-gray with white pith.
Red - Stout, large purple buds, with red-brown pith.
  Leaves: In general, deciduous, opposite, and compound.
Black - Deciduous, opposite compound, 5to 11 (usually 7) leaflets, greenish fall color.
Red - Opposite, compound, 5 to 7 leaflets, downy beneath, greenish fall color.
  Flowers: Black - Small, creamy white, in large (6 to 10 inches wide) flattened clusters, June-July.
Red - Small, yellowish white, 3 to 5 inches long pyramid clusters, May.
  Fruit: Black - Purplish-black, in large flattened clusters that often weigh down branches, Aug.-Sept. Excellent for jellies and wine.
Red - Scarlet or red, 1/4 inch diameter, in pyramid clusters, very showy late June-July.
West Virginia Range:
Black - Common throughout W.Va.
Red - Mountain counties of Barbour, Fayette, Grant, Greenbrier, Hampshire, Hancock, Mercer, Mineral, Monongalia, Nicholas, Pendleton, Pocahontas, Preston, Raleigh, Randolph, Summers, Tucker, Upshur and Webster.
Natural Habitat:
Black - Rich moist soil of roadsides, fencerows, edge of forests and open swamps. Grows well on strip mined lands where other plants will not grow.
Red - Rocky, moist woods.
Wildlife Use:
Fruits are eaten by mammals and birds such as deer, rabbit, squirrel, chipmunks, grouse, turkey, quail, dove, brown thrasher, rose-breasted grosbeak, chat, mockingbird, and catbird. Very important summer food for wildlife.
Uses: Specimen or borders.
Light: Black (full sunlight); Red (partial shade).
Soil Moisture: Moist to slightly dry..
Soil pH: Acid to neutral..
Problems: Usually free of insects and diseases. Requires annual pruning to maintain form, to prevent root suckers and for renewal..

Compiled by: Linnie Coon, outdoor writer and naturalist Comfort, West Virginia

Written by West Virginia Native Plant Society members and jointly published with the WV Nongame Program

Illustration from Flora of West Virginia, Strausbaugh and Core