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Elders are attractive shrubs that offer several seasons of color thanks to their clusters of spring or summertime flowers, attractive foliage, and fruits that attract birds. In fact, black elder, also called elderberry, produces fruits that are edible to people.

The shrubs are easy to grow, thriving in a variety of soil types, including wet areas. They seem to do equally well in full sun and part shade.


Part Sun, Sun



8 to 20 feet


To 20 feet wide

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how to grow Elder

Harvest Tips

Pick berries of elder once they're ripe. You may either rake through the cluster with your fingers to pluck the berries, or clip off the entire cluster and shake the berries into a container. Use the berries to make jelly, syrup, or wine.

more varieties for Elder
Black Lace elder

Black Lace elder

(Sambucus nigra 'Black Lace') is a large shrub with finely cut deep purple-black foliage. In spring it bears creamy pink flowers that become edible purple fruits in fall. It grows 8 feet tall and 9 feet wide. Zones 4-7



Sambucus nigra subsp. canadensis is a vigorous shrub that grows to 12 feet tall. In early summer, it produces large clusters of white flowers that mature into blue-black edible fruits. Birds are attracted to the fruits, so if you want to harvest them for juice, protect the ripening clusters with bird netting. Zones 3-9

Guincho Purple elder

Guincho Purple elder

(Sambucus nigra 'Guincho Purple') features lovely purple-green leaves and clusters of purple fruits in fall. It grows 20 feet tall and wide. Zones 5-8

Madonna elder

Madonna elder

(Sambucus nigra 'Madonna') shows off green foliage boldly variegated in yellow. It produces clusters of white flowers that become edible fruits in fall. It grows 10 feet tall and wide. Zones 4-8

Pulverulenta elder

Pulverulenta elder

(Sambucus nigra 'Pulverulenta') is a distinct selection with green leaves mottled heavily in white. It produces clusters of white flowers and purple fruits. It grows 10 feet tall and wide. Zones 4-8

Sutherland Gold elder

Sutherland Gold elder

(Sambucus racemosa 'Sutherland Gold') offers finely cut foliage in a brilliant shade of chartreuse and clusters of creamy white flowers in spring. It does best in partial shade and grows 10 feet tall and wide. Zones 3-7

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