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Hort in the Home Landscape

A blog devoted to sharing timely horticulture topics and answering the questions of gardeners and homeowners.
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POTW: Elderberry

Plant of the Week!

This week you can see Elderberry blooming along roadsides and in gardens everywhere. The most familiar of the Elderberry's is American Elder or Elderberry, Sambucus canadensis. This particular elderberry looked beautiful along the water last week when I toured the Midway Village Museum in Rockford.

The American Elderberry is a shrubby, multi-stemmed plant with an outwardly arching habit, 3 to 15 feet high, spreading a similar width, with pithy brittle twigs, and silvery to yellow-gray smooth bark. Elderberry grows best in full sun to partial shade, doing well in moist, well-drained soils, but will tolerate some dryness as well as wet sites.

The flowers of elderberry appear in June-July as large, fragrant, flattened clusters of tiny cream-colored flowers. Flowers are followed by small dark purple berries in late summer. These tart, deep purple berries can be used in jams, jellies, chutneys, preserves, and wine. The dried blossoms are also used in tea blends. The fruit is also attractive to wildlife and is great for attracting native pollinators.

This plant has few problems besides its slightly aggressive growth. Frequent pruning may be needed to cut of the growth of suckers and to keep the plant in check.

There is much variety within the Sambucus genus, which elderberry is included in. Varieties can be selected for better fruit production or for more ornamental value. I recently planted a 'Black Lace' elderberry in my landscape because of its beautiful dark foliage.

Learn more about Elderberry as the 2013 Herb of the Year here:

And learn more about the culture of the plant here:

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