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Elderberry

Elderberry, Sambucus canadensis, is a medium to large shrub in the Caprifoliaceae, or honeysuckle, family.  It is clonal forming and produces dense thickets when it is in its preferred habitat.  It reaches a height of 15 feet at maturity and becomes tree-like in stature. The branches are weak and tend to be arching, especially when they are heavy with fruit.  It is a very easy plant to transplant ... either by digging up small plants or the suckers that have been sent out by the main plant.  After digging one up to move it be sure to trim off any flowers or blooms so that the plant can use that energy to acclimate to being transplanted.  Also, be sure to keep it watered regularly until it becomes established.  I like to do my transplanting during the summer rainy season so I don't have to water the plants myself. Seeds need two months of cold stratification in order to germinate. Its preferred habitat is wet hammocks, shallow ponds, stream banks, margins of swamps, and disturbed sites. It can be grown in the home landscape with a little extra watering. Don Robinson grows elderberry in the sandhills of Spring Hill and has it attain almost champion size. So don't be afraid to try it in locations other than its preferred habitat.  But, it is still best to find a moist location in your yard for it ... maybe where the a/c drips or a low spot that puddles. Elderberry leaves are opposite and pinnately compound. The leaflets are toothed and found in numbers of 5-9. The lower leaves may be trifoliate. The small white flowers are born in flat topped clusters.  They tend to bloom all year, but their peak blooming time seems to be summer.  The flowers are edible and can be used in pancakes, fritters, and cornbread once the stems are removed.  I've also used them to make a delicious elderberry flower wine. The small black berries hang in clusters, and are eaten by birds and mammals.  They are eaten by humans as well, and are used for making pies, jellies, jams, and wines.  They can also be used as a substitute for raisins in bread pudding recipes. The berries should be cooked before ingesting. Buy elderberry seeds here at my eBay store.
mature elderberry bush in the landscape elderberry flowers (Sambucus canadensis) ripe elderberry fruit (Sambucus canadensis)
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