Sambucus nigra Sambucus nigra Sambucus nigra

© Copyright: Images: Jouko Lehmuskallio.
All rights reserved.

Red-berried Elder

Sambucus racemosa

  • Name also: Red Elderberry, Alpine Elder
  • Family: Muskroot Family – Adoxaceae
    (formerly Honeysuckle Family – Caprifoliaceae)
  • Growing form and height: Shrub. 2–4 m (7–13 ft.)
  • Flower: Regular (actinomorphic), small. Calyx-lobes 5, triangular. Petals 5, greenish- or yellowish-white, with rounded tips. Carpels 3, fused, stigmas 3, styles absent. Stamens 4 to 5. Inflorescence a dense compound raceme.
  • Leaves: Opposite. Fairly long-stalked, large, odd-pinnate, fetid. Leaflets usually five, appr. 5–10 cm (2–4 in.) long, ovate–elliptic, sharp-toothed, hairy and greyish beneath. Autumn colour purplish-red.
  • Buds: Opposite, big, obovate–round.
  • Fruit: Small, red berry.
  • Habitat: Originally an ornamental. An escape in forests, rock outcrops, road sides etc.
  • Flowering time: May–June. Flowers when coming into leaf.
  • Harmfulness: Harmful invasive species.

The genus Sambucus comprises mostly woody species, shrubs and small trees. Red-berried elder is not native in Finland, but a naturalized garden escape, common in many parts of South-Finland. It is a poisonous shrub with spreading branches, thriving best on nitrogen-rich sites. Red-berried elder flowers early in the spring. Birds eat the berries, and spread the seeds. Forms with variously lobed and toothed leaves are known.

Black Elder

Sambucus nigra

Black elder (also known as Elderberry, European elder, European elderberry and European black elderberry) resembles red-berried elder. But its berries are black and very tasty (when raw, a bit poisonous). The green parts of both elders are always poisonous. Black elder has been used as a medicine against flu.

Other species from the same family
Flowers from the same family

Follow us!



Identify species!

Sivun alkuun / Top of the page