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A fast-growing, super hardy multi-stemmed tall shrub that can handle very wet sites or regular garden soil. Produces large, flat clusters of heavenly-smelling white flowers followed by small, deep purple berries with serious nutrient and medicine power. Elderberries are a growing market in the US! All varieties offered are native to the US, Sambucus canadensis.

Elderberry needs a pollinator if you want to harvest berries, so get at least 2 different varieties!

Food uses

Dinner plate sized heads of tiny white flowers bloom around June, with new heads opening through July. These flowers are edible and can be battered and fried, or made into a delicious tea or syrup called “elderflower cordial” that tastes like bottled springtime.

The small, deep purple berries are a nutrient powerhouse: high in Vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants, and long believed to give the immune system a boost. Elderberries should not be eaten fresh, but are fantastic for syrup, jelly, and wine.

Wildlife uses

American elderberry is native to the whole Eastern half of the United States and south through Bolivia. Since it has a long history here, it’s co-adapted to native wildlife. The flowers are adored by local bees and pollinators, the berries are favored by birds (but you’ll still get plenty!), and once established, its fast growth handles deer browse with no problems. If you have deer, you may want to protect it with fencing or a wire ring for the first year or two.

Landscape uses

Elders grow tall, arching branches with pretty foliage that looks great in the background of a landscape planting. They spread slowly by suckers, so they need space, but aren’t invasive. They can sprawl in July and August when loaded with flowers or berries. Elders naturally grow near water, so if you have a troublesome wet spot in your yard, it’s a great foundation plant for a rain garden. They also do fine in average garden soil, but aren’t the best choice for a very dry site. They handle shady sites and will produce berries in partial shade.

Got backyard chickens? Plant it in or around their run, and it will rain down chicken food all summer.

American elderberry fruits on this year’s new growth, so you can cut it back as hard as you like in the cold season when it’s dormant. It doesn’t need pruning or maintenance to thrive.

Additional information


Varies (see drop-down for varieties)

USDA Hardiness Zone


Sunlight needs

Full sun to part shade

Water & soil needs

Wet, moist, or average soil. Can handle poor soil, but not a very dry site.


Wyldewood, York, Ranch


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