Botanical Name:  Sambucus nigra subsp. canadensis

Common Name:  Elderberry, American Elderberry

Description:  Elderberry is a Florida native shrub that I think is very pretty. Elderberry flowers and fruit have been prized around the world since prehistoric times. Today the juice’s antioxidant content makes it popular with a new generation. Pies, jellies, syrups, wines, spirits, teas, and dyes are just a few products you’ll find packed with elderberry goodness. And of course the local wildlife have always enjoyed this abundant food resource. It is fast growing: A single plant can grow to between 5 to 12′ tall and spread up to 10′. Snowy white elderberry flowers appear in large, showy clusters in early summer. In the warmer parts of the state they may continue to bloom sporadically throughout the year. Birds and other critters like the fruits. Lots of different pollinators frequent the flowers.  It develops fruits in mid to late summer. The fruits are found in clusters, called cymes. Elderberry is usually deciduous in our area. Likes sun, part sun, or part shade areas of your garden. Forms thickets, so either plant where it can freely do that or be prepared to do some pruning to keep it in line. Is drought tolerant after becoming established. Is deer resistant.

PLEASE NOTE:  A point of caution about elderberry’s white flower clusters. These look very similar to water hemlock, one of Florida’s most poisonous plants. As always, please be certain of their plant identification before tasting any foraged foods.

Not salt tolerant of inundation by salty or brackish water. Low/no tolerance of salty wind or direct salt spray.

Plant Lore:  Like cassava and almonds, ripe elderberry fruits contain trace amounts of cyanogenic glycosides (CNGs). CNGs are compounds that can break down into cyanide. A healthy person can consume these foods if they’re properly prepared. Still, some people are more sensitive to CNGs than others. Other parts of the elderberry plant contain higher amounts of CNGs, sometimes at levels toxic to humans. This includes unripe berries, stems, leaves, and possibly the seeds, too. Examine fruit clusters carefully and remove any unripe berries. Strain out the seeds as you prepare the fruits. Used extensively in Native American cultures. Fruits are very high in Vitamin C

This plant in 1-gallon containers is 8-12″ tall.

This plant in 3-gallon containers is 2-4′ tall.

Florida Hardiness Zones 8 – 10 / East Gulf Coastal Plains Ecoregion


Additional information

Container Size

1-gallon, 3-gallon


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