Sambucus nigra ssp. cerulea (Blue elderberry)

Formerly S. caerulea. Deciduous short-lived aromatic shrub or small tree up to 20 ft. tall or more with purple-black berries and white to cream flowers, blooming March to September. Adapted to a wide variety of well-drained soils along streambanks, riverbanks, riparian areas and moist sites within drier brush and forest communities; up to 10,000 ft. elevation. Often found with quaking aspen, alders, serviceberries (Amelanchier spp.), Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana), roses (Rosa spp.), gooseberries (Ribes spp.) and big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata). Sprouts vigorously from the crown after wildfire. Good palatability to livestock and wildlife and is a more important deer browse than Red elderberry (S. racemosa). Persistent and may recover well from heavy browsing. Provides cover and nesting for wildlife, and berries feed numerous birds and small mammals. Native cavity nesting bees live inside the pithy stems of old dried growth. Hummingbirds visit flowers for nectar.


Sambucus niga ssp. cerulea (Blue elderberry).png


Family: Caprifoliaceae

Duration: Perennial

Growth Habit: Shrub/tree

Native Status: Native

Growth Form: Multiple stem

Mature Height: 23 ft.

Bloom Color: White

Fruit/Seed Color: Black

Bloom Period: Spring

Annual Precipitation: 10-60 in.

Drought Tolerance: High

Shade Tolerance: Intermediate

Elevation: up to 9,000 ft.

Wetland Indicator Status

Fire Resistance: No

Fire Tolerance: Medium

Nitrogen Fixation: None


Coarse Texture: Yes

Medium Texture: Yes

Fine Texture: No

Salinity Tolerance: None

CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium

pH Range: 4.6-7.5


Seeds per Pound: 197,500

Seeding Rate:  PLS lbs/acre

Season: Fall

Days to Germination: