Good Food and Cover
Black (American) Elderberry – Sambucus canadensis
Red (Scarlet) Elderberry – S. pubens
Open, many stemmed, broad, rounded shrub with spreading and arching branches, to 5 to 15 feet tall.
Twigs and Bark
Black-Stout, yellow-gray with white pith.
Red-Stout, large purple buds, with red-brown pith.
In general, deciduous, opposite, and compound.
Black-Deciduous, opposite, compound, 5 to 11 (usually 7) leaflets, greenish fall color.
Red-Opposite, compound, 5 to 7 leaflets, downy beneath, greenish fall color.
Black-Small, creamy white, in large (6 to 10 inches wide) FLATTENED CLUSTERS June-July.
Red-Small, yellowish white, 3 to 5 inches long pyramid clusters, May.
Black-Purplish-black, in large flattened clusters that often weigh down branches, Aug.-Sept. Excellent for jellies and wine.
Red-Scarlet or red, ¼ inch diameter, in pyramid clusters, very showy late June-July.
Black-Common throughout WV.
Red-Mountain counties of Barbour, Fayette, Grant, Greenbrier, Hampshire, Hancock, Mercer, Mineral, Monongalia, Nicholas, Pendleton, Pocahontas, Preston , Raleigh , Randolph , Summers, Tucker, Upshur and Webster.
Black-Rich moist soil of roadsides, fencerows, edge of forests and open swamps. Grows well on stripmined lands where other plants will not grow.
Red-Rocky, moist woods.
Fruits are eaten by mammals and birds such as deer, rabbit, squirrel, chipmunks, grouse, turkey, quail, dove, brown thrasher, rose-breasted grosbeak, chap, mockingbird and catbird. Very important summer food for wildlife.
Uses: Specimen or borders.
Light: Black (full sunlight); Red (partial shade)
Soil Moisture: Moist to slightly dry.
Soil pH: Acid to neutral.
Problems: Usually free of insects and diseases. Requires annual pruning to maintain form, to prevent root suckers and for renewal.
Compiled by: William N. Grafton, naturalist, botanist and wildlife specialist West Virginia University , Morgantown , West Virginia
Written by West Virginia Native Plant Society members and jointly published with the WV Wildlife Diversity Program.