photo by Franco Folini CC BY-SA


Elderberry is 5-12 ft tall and wide with long stems arching out from the base. Large, flat-topped, umbrella-shaped clusters (10 in or more in diameter) of fragrant, white flowers appear from May to July followed in late summer or early fall by clusters of red or dark purple to black berries. The leaves are composed of 5-11 leaflets up to 12 in long.

Elderberry grows along streams and roadsides and in moist woodlands. It's often found in large clumps as it spreads by root suckers. Elderberry can be found throughout North America although it is less common in the prairie provinces, the Gulf states, and the North.

Could it be? Be careful. Many plants in the carrot family have umbrella-shaped flower clusters; some of them (e.g. Water Hemlock) are poisonous.

Did you know? Elderberry's Latin name - Sambucus - refers to a Greek musical instrument as its stems can be hollowed out to make flutes and whistles.

See Also: Wild Strawberry, Bearberry, Blackberry, Chokecherry, Highbush Cranberry, Huckleberry, Oregon Grape, Saskatoon Berry, Silver Buffaloberry, Snowberry, Thimbleberry