Red elderberry

Sambucus racemosa

Red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa) is a large shrub or small tree, growing up to 20’ tall by 20’ wide. It grows in full sun to full shade, and prefers moist to wet soil. It is deciduous with large, compound leaves. White flowers bloom from early-spring to mid summer in 1.5”-3” upright, pyramid-shaped clusters.

This shrub provides food and shelter for many wildlife species. Birds, mammals, and insects eat all parts of the plant including the leaves, bark, roots, and bright red fruit. The spring azure butterfly lays its eggs on red elderberry and the hollow stems provide nest space and overwintering shelter for solitary bees. This plant also supports beneficial insects that eat garden pests.

  • Light Requirements: Full Sun, Part Shade, Full Shade
  • Water Requirements: Moist, Wet
  • Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • Spreads:
  • Wildlife Support: Pollinators, Hummingbirds, Pest-eating Insects
  • Fire-resistant: Yes
  • Edible: Toxic if eaten raw - must be properly cooked
  • Mature Height: 10-20ft
  • Mature Width:6-10ft