Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Elderberry, Black Elder, European Elder, Bourtree
Sambucus nigra 'Eva'

Family: Adoxaceae (a-dox-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Sambucus (sam-BYOO-kus) (Info)
Species: nigra (NY-gruh) (Info)
Cultivar: Eva
Additional cultivar information: (PP15575, aka Black Lace)
Hybridized by Tobutt; Year of Registration or Introduction: 2005

Synonym:Sambucus graveolens
Synonym:Sambucus peruviana

7 vendors have this plant for sale.

35 members have or want this plant for trade.


8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
Pale Pink

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer

Grown for foliage

Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Flowers are fragrant
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From softwood cuttings
From hardwood cuttings

Seed Collecting:
N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

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There are a total of 39 photos.
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15 positives
1 neutral
2 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral grdnut2 On Jun 20, 2014, grdnut2 from Maroa, IL wrote:

I was torn between neutral and negative rating but this plant is too pretty to post a negative.
We have a large yard and purchased 8 black lace because of their resemblance to Japanese maples. Our research said buyers may keep the shrub trimmed up and enjoy it as a small blooming shrub or let it go! We opted to let it do it's own thing and now after 8 years we only have 1 plant left. The bores in central Illinois feast on these, we had no idea. The die back starts on one branch then another and before you know it, you have nothing left. They are a beautiful shrub and maybe if a person kept them trimmed down each spring they might not be as likely to get bores? Not sure.

Positive LanfrancoLeo On May 19, 2014, LanfrancoLeo from Harrisburg, PA wrote:

This is one of the most beautiful shrub that I have ever either seen and had. I have the BLACK LACE variety which foliage is really really dark, extremely fringed, really beautiful, I whish I bought more than one when I ordered!!! I bought a little plant from forest farm this April, it adapted perfectly well to the new location (remember to give enough sun if you want a nice dark foliage) and it even bloom the first year that I planted (see picture). From what I heard it grow very fast too. The combination of with-pale rose flower contrasting against the dark foliage is simply beautiful. Other two additional quality make this plant far better than a japanese maple:
1. It has a very nice fragrant foliage
2.The flower are bee-friendly and the berry are bird friendly..
If you have a nice space in your garden and you want a nice foliage not hesitate to buy it!!!

Negative ajretired On May 30, 2012, ajretired from Shorewood, WI wrote:

Just great for the first two years. Then 2 days ago, the top branches wilted. I pruned and saw t hat the stem was hollow and gushed black sludge. I kept pruning and every stem was the same. It's now a stump--I'll wait to see what happens.

Positive frugal On May 27, 2012, frugal from Spring, TX wrote:

Absolutely love mine! After the first year it really took off and bloomed all summer long.

Positive miatog On Apr 25, 2012, miatog from Hants County
Canada wrote:

My plant is getting very tall - can I prune back the leader and if so, before or after blooming? Thanks.

Positive thevioletfern On Sep 19, 2011, thevioletfern from Clayton, NY (Zone 4b) wrote:

This shrub is one of my favorites and has often fooled visitors to my garden into thinking that it is a Japanese Maple. In zone 4, it is an excellent alternative to the Japanese Maple. It has tripled in size in three years. Wonderful lace-cap like flowers in spring, wonderful foliage that holds all summer long, and berries come fall.

Positive jrkengr On Jun 13, 2011, jrkengr from Vancouver, WA wrote:

Vancouver, Washington

I planted the black lace elderberry to train as an upright, multitrunk tree. The first year it grew from 1-1/2 feet to over 6' tall. The secton year it grew to over 10' tall, and this year it is over 15' tall. It is a beautiful tree/shrub when properly pruned, and has grown problem free against the house on the east-facing side in a raised bed. It has beautiful, prolific, whitish-pink flower clusters. Only problem is that it is not evergreen, and there is leaf debris to keep cleaned up.

Negative hortulaninobili On Feb 12, 2011, hortulaninobili from St. Louis, MO (Zone 6a) wrote:

Aesthetically speaking, this plant has it all: wonderful burgundy foliage, nice clear-pink flowers, refined texture, and manageable growth habit. Concerns of practicality, I am not impressed with disease/insect-tolerance/resistance and lack of robustness.

Leaves emerge in spring and new flush of growth dies back. Culprit seems to be some sort of larva or grub taking up residence in the pith (likely cutting off all water an nutrient supply causing dieback). Also, St. Louis summer heat and humidity does not seem to treat this cultivar of elderberry well -- even though it's close cousins do just fine in neighboring woods (Sambucus canadensis). Leaves have rather acrid, pungent odor, smelling similar to boxwood.

Currently growing in a mulched border with great soil, ample moisture, and full sun. I suspect this plant is at the southern end of it's range and will perform much worse the further south one goes. Probably a better plant for more northern climes.

For similar color, I suggest Weigela 'Wine and Roses' or a Japanese maple.

Positive two2lips On May 26, 2010, two2lips from Park Ridge, IL wrote:

Bought this plant at the end of the season and it was in rough shape. It over-wintered beautifully and has grown into a great plant--and the white blooms against the dark foliage is stunning.

Positive maryap On Apr 5, 2010, maryap from Timnath, CO wrote:

This is a gorgeous plant! I planted mine last spring 2009 in Northern Colorado. I bought a fairly large plant from my local nursery ($40). It did really well and has such delicate leaves and I also got several beautiful clusters of pink flowers in its first year in my garden. I believe that is due to my purchasing a larger plant. I'm going to buy one for my daughter's garden this spring.

Positive mishal218 On Aug 20, 2009, mishal218 from International Falls, MN wrote:

I purchased this very lovely shrub in 2007. Even though it was a zone 4 plant and I live in zone 3, I wanted to try it anyways as it is so pretty. I planted it next to the foundation on the east side of my home and it grew nicely over the summer. In the fall I covered it with an old rug and a styro cone and it wintered very well. It had moderate growth summer of 2008 but only had a couple of flower heads. Due to a very busy fall last year, my shrub did not get covered at all. We had an extremely cold winter with more than a few days of -40 degrees. It did survive though! It did not have any new growth on any previous branches, but growth came from the roots and it grew to a 6 or 7 foot height. But it did not flower at all. Can anyone tell me how to get it to flower?

Positive joegee On May 25, 2009, joegee from Bucyrus, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

In spring of 2008 I bought two of these as replacements (sold locally as Black Lace) for horrible red Japanese barberries. These two elders are of the same color family, but they have a much more pleasant disposition than barberries. I'm hopeful the birds are equally fond of the berries.

I also considered cutleaf red Japanese maples, and although the maples can offer me a truer red, they grow slower, and specimens the size of the plants I acquired easily cost six times as much and are not as cold tolerant.

The plants are planted in clay soil amended with processed sludge from the local sewage plant (My city gives it away for free, and it's FANTASTIC fertilizer, just not for plants you intend to eat) and top soil. They are planted along the front of an east-facing porch, and they are partially shaded by the roof, so they receive morning sun and less than average rainfall.

I pruned moderately last fall. Pruning is easy (and pain free, NASTY barberries!) In north Central Ohio they began shooting out in April and the shoots breezed through several frosts and freezes with no damage. The shoots are now fully developed and are sending out many large bloom heads.

Last year they were planted with several flower buds blooming. I noticed a faint lemon scent, not unpleasant. This year they are both covered with flower buds at the end of May. I'm looking forward to seeing if they happen to bloom at the same time as my snowflake philadelphus. :)

I note no apparent pests for this plant. It's just a nicely-colored, cut leaved, fast-growing, pruning friendly alternative to some of the other maroon colored plants that might be considered.

Hey, these plants are said to be hardy to zone 4. Minnesotans, Dakotans, folks from the great Canadian Prairies take heed, this might be a good plant for you to try!

Positive Forensicmom On May 27, 2008, Forensicmom from Millersville, MD wrote:

This is the 2nd year for my 'Black Lace' and I'm amazed at how much better lookking it is from last year. Last year it stayed kind of small (maybe 3-4') and didn't bloom AT ALL. This year, It's growing (5-6') and has a bunch of beautiful light pink flowers. They're a gorgeous contrast to the black-purple clored leaves.

Positive meliana On Jun 15, 2007, meliana from Baltimore, MD wrote:

This is my favorite plant in my whole garden. My sister gave it to me last May as a 2-quart plant. We had a very dry, hot summer and the plant did nothing at all, so I neglected it (I sometimes get mad at my plants, I know, this is is nutty) and thought it might just die last winter. But what a surprise this spring--it exploded in growth, and it is 4 feet tall and growing. The flower "discs" are supernaturally beautiful. The dark purple leaves emerge lime green, and not one leaf has browned, wilted, or been eaten (yet). This would be also beautiful in groups or a line (for screening or a very loose hedge).

Positive braun06 On Mar 14, 2007, braun06 from Peoria Heights, IL (Zone 5b) wrote:

I like this plant more than I thought I would. It has a great character that is different from plant to plant. It does retain a black color here in our summers and grows quite fast. Its a trouble free beautiful plant I think its uses are endless for those looking for something different. I don't like norway maples for various reasons. I don't like red norways because the size of the plant size and leaf make it stand out too much and draw too much attention from everything else in a landscape. Black Lace is very versatile and offers something different in the landscape but does so conservatively. I dont doubt this plant will wind up in overuse at some point though because of its character and carefree culture. If you are deciding between this plant and Black Beauty, Black Beauty does not keep black foliage here throughout the summer in full sun. The leaves did appear small and really fine in the nursery on Black Lace but grew bigger in a landscape.

Positive MBlakeslee On Nov 8, 2006, MBlakeslee from Sterling Heights, MI wrote:

Bought on a whim because I liked its Japanese Maple Qualities (Fine Leaves). Does great and as expected in the Full Sun. In Part Shade the leaves get wider and rust a bit, but still a nice plant for dark foliage.

Positive rcn48 On Oct 6, 2006, rcn48 from Lexington, VA (Zone 6a) wrote:

First year in our gardens and although it didn't bloom for us this year, the black foliage is gorgeous. Planted in full sun it has retained its color throughout the heat and humidity of our summers, unlike S. 'Black Beauty' which always loses its black foliage by mid summer. Advertised as a "Plant for Passionate Gardeners" or as an alternative for northern gardeners where hardiness is questionable for Japanese Maples.

Positive stevenova On Jul 8, 2003, stevenova from Newcastle
United Kingdom (Zone 8a) wrote:

This plant may come under the alternative variety name (or clone name) of 'Eva' outside the UK.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Juneau, Alaska
Grand Forks, British Columbia
Fairfield, California
Forest Falls, California
Petaluma, California
San Anselmo, California
Santa Clara, California
Sebastopol, California
Denver, Colorado
Englewood, Colorado
Timnath, Colorado
Windsor, Colorado
Oxford, Connecticut
Lewes, Delaware
Cordele, Georgia
Boise, Idaho
Chicago, Illinois
Hanna City, Illinois
Maroa, Illinois
Park Ridge, Illinois
Pontiac, Illinois
Washington, Illinois
Waukegan, Illinois
Indianapolis, Indiana
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Wichita, Kansas
Baltimore, Maryland
Fallston, Maryland
Millersville, Maryland
Dracut, Massachusetts
Lanse, Michigan
Rockford, Michigan
Sterling Heights, Michigan
International Falls, Minnesota
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Grandview, Missouri
Reno, Nevada
Bedford, New Hampshire
Deer Park, New York
Himrod, New York
Bucyrus, Ohio
Cincinnati, Ohio
Columbus, Ohio
Edmond, Oklahoma
Shawnee, Oklahoma
Grants Pass, Oregon
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Houston, Pennsylvania
Pittston, Pennsylvania
Knoxville, Tennessee
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Nashville, Tennessee
Friendswood, Texas
Kaysville, Utah
South Burlington, Vermont
Evington, Virginia
Lexington, Virginia
Barberton, Washington
Dupont, Washington
East Port Orchard, Washington
Kalama, Washington
Port Angeles, Washington
Port Townsend, Washington
Puyallup, Washington
Seattle, Washington
Vancouver, Washington
Petersburg, West Virginia
Franklin, Wisconsin
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Neenah, Wisconsin

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