Common names: Elderberry, Elder, black elder, European elder.
Sambucus nigra is a flowering plant native to Europe. It grows in a variety of conditions including both wet and dry fertile soils. The plant is widely grown as an ornamental shrub or small tree. Both the flowers and berries have a long tradition of culinary and medicinal use.
In Europe and the United Kingdom plants are commonly found growing wild in hedgerows, edges of woodlands, and on waste ground. They are commonly found growing wild in parts of NZ too particularly the Waiarapa and South Otago – which hints at cooler temperate climates being more favourable to the plants.
Plants are often multi-stemmed and will handle hard pruning once established- this will usually encourage vigorous new shoots. Tiny nectar rich creamy flowers are borne in large umbels during late spring and summer. The flowers develop into clusters of small purple to black berries which birds adore. Flowers are used to make elder flower cordial or champagne and can also be dipped in batter and fried. Berries can be made into wine or a syrup for medicinal use.
Please note: Cooking the berries before consuming is recommended. Reports about the safety of the raw fruit can be contradictory. Please do your own research.
- Ht: 3-6 meters
- Sun to light shade
- Moist fertile and well drained
- Pb 2