Skip to site navigation

Sambucus nigra

Home  |  Plants > Plant Selector > Sambucus nigra

© RHS 2002

Characteristics

Plant type

Shrub

Habit

Bushy

Origin

Native to the UK

Fragrance

Flower

Toxicity

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

Resilience

Hardiness

H6 (hardy - very cold winter)

Colour

Flower

Cream in Summer

Foliage

Green in Spring and Summer
Pale Yellow in Autumn

Fruit

Black in Autumn

Size

Ultimate height

4-8 metres

Ultimate spread

2.5-4 metres

Time to ultimate height

10-20 years


Preferred common name

common elder

Family

Adoxaceae


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

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

How to grow

Sunlight

  • Full sun
  • Part shade

Aspect

  • South-facing, North-facing, West-facing or East-facing
  • Exposed or Sheltered

Cultivation

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

Soil

  • Moist but well-drained
  • Acid, Alkaline or Neutral
  • Chalk, Clay, Sand or Loam

Propagation

Propagate by softwood or hardwood cuttings

Suggested planting locations and garden types

Coastal, Low Maintenance, Hedging/Screens or 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