Common Elder

The common elder is very adaptable, survives with minimal care but tends to sucker. Good naturalization or roadside plant. Deer resistant.

August 25, 2015 | | Blogs | Leisure | Not So Hollow Farm

Sambucus canadensis aka common elder, American elder, common elderberry and sweet elder. Fruit can be used for jellies, pies, juice and wine. Berries and flowers are edible, but other parts of the plant are poisonous. Very adaptable, survives with minimal care but tends to sucker. Good naturalization or roadside plant. Deer resistant.

Common Elder Characteristics

Common Elderberry Fruit and FlowerLeaves: Dark green in summer, insignificant yellow-green fall colour.
Stem/Bark: Yellowish-gray to gray-brown stems, insignificant smooth tan bark.
Flower: Lightly scented showy flat topped white flower clusters in June-July. Flowers quite profusely covering a good portion of the shrub.
Fruit/Nut: Purple-black berries in August-September produced in drooping clusters and attracts birds.
Habit: Fast growing multi-stemmed shrub, broad & rounded crown with arching branches.
Hardiness: Zone 3
Height: 5 – 12’
Width: 8’

Why grow native plants?

A native plant is defined as a species of fauna that was already established before colonization. There are numerous benefits to the use of Native Plants. Native plants have grown and evolved in a given area for generations and therefore are more prepared to face the elements. As a result they are much hardier and less finicky to care for. The wildlife in the area has also evolved along side these plants, and because of this has formed bonds with them. Most butterflies have a specific plant species from which they collect nectar for their offspring. There are many birds that will feed directly from local trees for seed, nectar or fruit, but won’t use the bird feeder you’ve bought to attract them. These plants also work together to grow as natural plant communities. Most of the trees won’t grow their leaves until after the wildflowers have had an adequate amount of time to flower before they’re covered by shade. Finally, of course, there is the fact that all of these plants and animals combine to make a sustainable, complete, functioning ecosystem. Why fight thousands of years of evolution?

Have questions about native plants? Post a comment Ian will get back to you.

About the Author More by Ian Payne

Not So Hollow Farm is nestled in the Hills of Mulmur saving the planet one Native Plant at a time. Check out the blog "Not So Hollow Farm Native Plant Showcase".

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By posting a comment you agree that IN THE HILLS magazine has the legal right to publish, edit or delete all comments for use both online or in print. You also agree that you bear sole legal responsibility for your comments, and that you will hold IN THE HILLS harmless from the legal consequences of your comment, including libel, copyright infringement and any other legal claims. Any comments posted on this site are NOT the opinion of IN THE HILLS magazine. Personal attacks, offensive language and unsubstantiated allegations are not allowed. Please report inappropriate comments to