Sambucus canadensis
Common name: 
American Elderberry
sam-BEW-kus kan-a-DEN-sis
Adoxaceae, Caprifoliaceae
Sambucus nigra subsp. canadensis
Native to (or naturalized in) Oregon: 
  • Broadleaf deciduous large shrub, stoloniferous, multi-stemmed, 5-12 ft (~1.5-4 m) tall and similar width, branches yellowish gray, with some lenticels, pith white.  Leaves opposite, pinnately compound, usually 7 leaflets (5-11), short stalked, elliptic to lanceolate, 5-15 cm long, lowest leaflets frequently 3-lobed, tip acuminate, margin sharply serrate, bright green above, nearly glabrous below or pubescence on veins; fall color yellow-green.  Flowers white (yellow stamens), in slightly convex clusters (cymes) to about 25 cm across, ovary usually 4 celled; blooms in early summer.  Fruit purple-black, 4-5 mm across; used in pies and for wine.
  • Sun and part shade, best in moist soils, suckers profusely; and sometimes considered weed-like.  For fruit production plant more than one selection.
  • Hardy to USDA Zone 3, some selections only to Zone 4    Native to eastern and central North America, from Nova Scotia and Manitoba south to Florida and Texas.
  • Taxonomy: Richard Bolli published a monograph in 1994 titled, "Revision of the Genus Sambucus", in it he proposed the placement of 5 species of elderberry as subspecies of Sambucus nigra, including S. caerulea, Blue Elderberry, to S. nigra subsp. cerulea (note spelling) and S. canadensis, American Elderberry, to S. nigra subsp. canadensis.  This change was accepted by the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS), but not the World Flora Online (WFO) as of  March 2024.

  • Cultivars:
    • 'Acutiloba' (sometimes listed as 'Laciniata', (see 'Laciniata' vs. 'Acutiloba' ) – This cultivar “is the counterpart of the cut-leaved form of the European Elderberry but is more graceful owing to the longer and more divided leaf, which is dark green (Trees and Shrubs Online, National Dendrology Soc.). It was released to nursery commerce as a cut-leaved American Elderberry in about 1916 by the Ellwanger & Berry Nursery, Rochester, NY.
    • 'Aurea'  -  golden yellow leaves with cherry red fruit.
  • Oregon State Univ. campus: SE Peavy Hall.
Click image to enlarge
  • plant habit, flowering

    plant habit, flowering

  • flower cluster and flowers

    flower cluster and flowers

  • flower cluster and young fruit cluster

    flower cluster and young fruit cluster

  • branch with young fruit cluster

    branch with young fruit cluster

  • leaf


  • leaves


  • leaflets, upper surface and margin

    leaflets, upper surface and margin

  • leaflets, comparison

    leaflets, comparison

  • plant habit, fruiting

    plant habit, fruiting

  • fruit clusters and leaves

    fruit clusters and leaves

  • ripening fruit

    ripening fruit

  • fruit cluster, ripe

    fruit cluster, ripe

  • fruit cluster, comparison

    fruit cluster, comparison

  • branches