- 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.
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 ssp. cerulea (note spelling) and S. canadensis, American Elderberry, to S. nigra ssp. canadensis. This change has been accepted by the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS), but certainly not all taxonomists, see https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4859216/ .
- '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.