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Native Plant of the Week: Black Elderberry

Updated: 2 days ago

Fun Family: Adoxaceae

Name: Sambucus canadensis

Bloom Time: May-June

Flower: Creamy-white

Soil Condition: Moist, acidic, adaptable

Light: Partial Sun, Sun

Height/Width: 5-12' tall by 6-10' wide

Native Range: North and Central US, including LI

Zone: 4-8

Photos (KMS Native Plants): berries and form

The giant flowers, usually bigger than your face, are followed by shiny black fruit in August. Fruit must be cooked for human consumption. The cooked berries may be used in pies, pancakes, and jellies. The flowers and the fruit may be used in winemaking, marmalade, yogurt, and desserts. Black elderberry is also great in a planter. They are self-pollinating but it is best to have two or more plants for higher fruit yield.

Maintenance: Prune in the late winter. Prune out the dead or weak stems, shorten one-year stems, or cut back to the ground to rejuvenate the plant. For the best foliage and habit, a hard spring pruning is recommended. Cuttings are easily propagated.

Benefits: Attracts many different pollinators and is a great nectar source. Host plant to the summer azure butterfly and several moth species. Great tree for nesting birds. Provides shelter/cover for quail and pheasants. It is not deer-resistant. Black walnut tolerant.

Fun Facts: Hollow stems may be used to make flutes and whistles.

Companion Plants: Viola sororia (common violet), Fragaria virginiana (wild strawberry), mix with other native shrubs in a mixed hedgerow



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