American elderberry is a thicket-forming shrub with large flat-topped clusters of small, fragrant white flowers in spring. The flowers are a good source of nectar for small insects. This variety was selected for its large clusters of dark blue to black fruit in late summer to fall. The fruit is an outstanding source of food for birds and other wildlife. The old stems provide over-wintering sites for insects. Birds such as woodpeckers then forage in the clumps for the insects.
Flowers provide nectar for pollinators
The fruit is favored by birds and other wildlife
Old stems provide habitat for over-wintering insects
Excellent for naturalizing in moist soil
Moist woods, fields, and roadsides; Nova Scotia to Manitoba south to Mexico and Florida.
The fresh fruits from the elderberry shrub may be used like other berries such as a topping for ice cream and pancakes, in cobblers, or even just eaten fresh.
Plant in full sun to part shade. Grow in medium wet, well-drained soil. Prefers moist, organically rich soil. Spreads by root suckers to form colonies. Prune out dead or weakened stems in early spring. Can be cut to the ground every two years to encourage denser growth.