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Common Elderberry
Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis

a.k.a. American Elder, American Black Elderberry

Edible, pollinator/wildlife benefits, prefers moist soil. Deciduous shrub, 3-10' tall with an irregular crown, spreading by rhizomes to form thickets. Valued for its forage, cover, productivity, adaptability and ease of establishment. It is often used as ground cover for stabilizing banks and eroding sites. It may be best used in masses in naturalized areas where it can be allowed to make broad thickets and colonies.

USDA symbol: SANIC4

General Information

Plant TypeShrub
Height5 to 12 feet
Light ExposureSun, Part Sun
Soil MoistureMedium, Wet
Bloom ColorWhite
Common Elderberry (Common Elderberry<div><em class="small">Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis</em></div>)
Photo credit: Minnesota Wildflowers (Click to enlarge)


Flooding / Inundation ToleranceModerate
General Resilience7
Salt ToleranceMedium
Stress ToleranceDrought Tolerant, Fire Tolerant, General Disturbance

Pollinator Value: High

Bloom MonthsJuly to August
Larval Host ofMoths
Specific Pollinators HostedAchatodes zeae, Orgyia antiqua
Pollinator BenefitInsect Pollinated, Provides Nectar, Stem Nesting, Supports Generalists

Project Planning

Project TypeErosion Control, Rain Garden, Restoration, Shoreline Buffer, Upland Buffer
Coefficient of Conservatism2
Herbivore SensitivityHigh
Rate of SpreadFast
Soil StabilizationDeep
Vegetative ReproductionClonal


CountyAnoka, Becker, Blue Earth, Brown, Carlton, Carver, Cass, Chippewa, Chisago, Clay, Cottonwood, Dakota, Dodge, Faribault, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Hennepin, Houston, Isanti, Jackson, Le Sueur, Martin, McLeod, Morrison, Mower, Murray, Nicollet, Nobles, Olmsted, Pennington, Pine, Pipestone, Ramsey, Redwood, Renville, Rice, Rock, Scott, Sherburne, Sibley, St. Louis, Stearns, Steele, Todd, Traverse, Wabasha, Wadena, Waseca, Washington, Watonwan, Winona, Wright