Sambucus (Elderberry) sam-BYOO-kus
The Sambucus plant, also known as the American elderberry or common elderberry, is a deciduous shrub with bright white flowers and small, dark berries. Known by many different names, including black elderberry and American black elderberry, this shrub makes a lovely addition to any garden or landscape thanks to its lush green leaves, sprays of flowers and edible fruits. Native to North America, the American elderberry is also known for its culinary qualities; elderberry fruits can be eaten and cooked with, but only when they are fully ripened.
Best planted in early spring after the final frost, American elderberry is a moderately-fast growing bush that can reach up to 12 feet tall and 6 feet across once mature. It can be planted outdoors successfully in USDA zones 3 through 9 and harvested once the berries are dark purple or black, typically in August or September. The berries are quite sour on their own, so if you opt to make them into a jam or pie, you’ll want to use lots of sugar. Additionally, the small white flowers on the plant, which form in a cluster called a cyme, can be used to make wine, cordials and syrups.