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Raw fruit of some types can cause gastric distress

Sambucus nigra caerulea

Blue Elderberry

Deciduous, Edible fruit, Shrubs, Trees, Flowers


Grow these large, airy deciduousshrubs for their whitespring flowers and colorful summerberries. In big gardens,they make effective summerscreens or windbreaks. To keepshrubby types dense, prunehard in dormant season, removingolder stems and headingback last year’s growth to a fewinches. Overgrown plants canbe cut to the ground. Types thatgrow into trees need early trainingto single or multiple trunks.

The various elder specieshave bright to dark green leavesand near-black, blue, or red berries.Fruit of red-berried speciesand of S. nigra caerulea cancause gastric upset in humansif consumed raw in large quantities.(Red-fruited forms of black- andblue-berried species arenot poisonous.) Species namesare presently in flux.

Sambucus nigra caerulea

Native from California north toBritish Columbia, east to theRockies. To 10–30 ft. tall, 8–20 ft. wide. Leaves divided intofive to nine toothed, 1–6-in.-longleaflets. White or creamy whiteflowers in flat-topped, 2–8-in.-wide clusters in spring, summer.Clusters of blue to nearlyblack berries, usually coveredwith whitish powder, follow theflowers. Fruit is often used injams, jellies, pies, and wine.Drought-tolerant, but it looksbetter (and keeps its foliage insummer) if given moderatewater.

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