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Sambucus nigra

Common elder

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Key information

Plant type

Deciduous shrub

Flower colour



Flowers, Fruit, Attractive to wildlife



Skill level


photo by Jonathan Buckley, copyright GAP Photos (314603)

Plant details

The best place for this vertical shooting, deciduous thicket of a shrub is the wild or cottage garden where it makes a fine hedge. It has sprays of tiny white flowers in early summer followed by small black fruit which can be cooked and eaten, or used to make a refreshing summer drink. When creating an elder hedge, use this species with 'Guincho Purple' which has darker summer leaves which turn red before falling in the autumn. You can use elder stems as a support for a climbing wild rose to provide more flowers in the summer.

Family: Caprifoliaceae

Genus: Sambucus

Species: nigra

Plant type: Deciduous shrub

Flower colour: White

Foliage colour: Mid-green

Feature: Flowers, Fruit, Attractive to wildlife

Sun exposure: Full sun, Partial shade

Soil: Well-drained/light, Clay/heavy, Chalky/alkaline, Dry, Moist

Hardiness: Hardy

Skill level: Experienced

Height: 600cm

Spread: 600cm

Time to take cuttings: July to September

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