How to Recognize an Elderberry Plant
Elderberries rise in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 8. In the wild, these deciduous shrubs or tiny trees often grow along rivers or streams. The flowers and dark purple or dark berries of the American elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) as well as the European elderberry (Sambucus nigra) are edible and used to produce jams, pies, wines and other dishes. The other areas of the plant are poisonous, however, as are all parts including the flowers and red berries of the red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa).
Look at the general form and size of the bush or small tree. A older American elderberry is approximately 12 feet tall, while the European elderberry rises up to 20 feet tall. The tree or tree will likely be woody and have multiple trunks and a spreading, draping kind.
Analyze the leaves of the bush. Elderberry leaves climb five to 11 on every stem, with a single leaf at the top and the remaining leaves in pairs opposite each other along the stem. Every leaf is ovate with serrated edges along the finishes, resulting in the tip. The veins of the leaves fade or finish in the ends of the serrations. Individual leaves are 2 to 6 inches long, bright green together with paler green undersides.
Examine the bark on the woody parts of the plant. Young elderberry shrubs have a smooth, green bark seen with white dots. As the plant matures, the bark turns gray and the white spots become modest bumps in the bark. A older elderberry has brown bark which develops vertical furrows over time.
Inspect the flowers which appear in spring or early summer. An elderberry’s white flowers grow in a flat inflorescence that may be from 2 to 8 inches round. Each individual flower in the cluster is star-shaped with five petals and five protruding yellow stamens.
Examine the fruit which grows on the elderberry shrub in the autumn. The berry clusters look like horizontal carpets of berries exactly the same diameter as the flowery inflorescence that preceded them. Each berry is only about 1/4 inch in diameter, with a small scar on the conclusion of the berry.