American black elder is a beautiful flower shrub noted for its edible fruits that are a boon to our bird friends.
Black elder facts in short
Name – Sambucus canadensis
Family – Adoxaceae
Type – shrub
Height – 10 to 16 feet (3 to 5 meters)
Exposure – full sun or part shade
Soil – any
Foliage – deciduous
Flowering – June to July
Planting American black elder
American black elderberry is planted indifferently in fall or spring. But planting it in fall makes it easier for the plant to resume growth in spring.
If you must plant in spring, provide for regular watering at the beginning to ensure that the roots dive deep into the ground.
It loves sun and any type of soil: chalky, moist, dry…
- Follow our advice on planting shrubs.
- A hedge is the chance to alternate different varieties, for example purple elder will make for a very ornamental impact.
Pruning and caring for American black elderberry
American black elderberry is a tree that calls for almost no care. It is really easygoing and it stands strong in the face of most diseases.
To deepen the beautiful hue of your elder, cut back the branches by about ⅓ at the beginning of spring.
Learn more about American black elder
It is both hardy, resisting down to -22°F (-30°C), and quite invulnerable to diseases, which makes it a very easy-growing shrub.
Fruits and flowers can both be consumed. They’re even brewed to wine in Scandinavian countries. However, best avoid eating the berries raw because they’re slightly poisonous and might lead to nausea and vomiting if ingested at high doses.
This beautiful shrub is very easy to grow and requires virtually no care at all apart from an (optional) annual pruning.
The berries, when cooked, are perfectly edible. They make for delicious elderberry jam, lemonade and syrup.
Are American black elderberry fruits edible?
Its fruits are edible, but take care: it is important to cook the berries to eliminate any risk of poisoning.
If in doubt, look it up… or you’ll experience gastric disorders.
Use of American black elderberry in the garden
Fermented elder tea is an excellent option to treat plants organically against such parasites as aphids or caterpillars.
The fermented elder tea recipe is easy to follow:
- 35 oz (1 kg) leaves in 10 quarts (10 liters),
- ferment for 3 to 6 days (until it stops bubbling),
- and filter before spraying.
Read more about the different types of weed tea.
Smart tip about the American black elder tree
Elder grows very fast, which makes it a great shrub to hide away from prying eyes.
Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
American black elder berries by Thomas Breher ★ under Pixabay license
Black elder flower by Ralph Nowack under Pixabay license
Branch with elderberries by Hans Braxmeier under Pixabay license