Red Elderberry

Sambucus pubens

Family: Adoxaceae (a-dox-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Sambucus (sam-BYOO-kus) (Info)
Species: pubens (PEW-benz) (Info)
Synonym:Sambucus racemosa subsp. pubens



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Very high moisture needs; suitable for bogs and water gardens

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)

15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)


8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

10-12 ft. (3-3.6 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)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade

Light Shade

Partial to Full Shade

Full Shade


Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Late Spring/Early Summer



Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

7.9 to 8.5 (alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From softwood cuttings

From semi-hardwood cuttings

From hardwood cuttings

From hardwood heel cuttings

From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

Seed Collecting:

Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing

Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds


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

Lisle, Illinois

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Salem, Oregon

Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania

Stanwood, Washington

Marinette, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jul 4, 2015, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

I found a specimen planted in the Midwest Collection on the east side of Morton Arboretum in June 2015. It is not all by itself, but surrounded by other trees and shrubs so it is partly shaded and in a cooler spot that it likes. All parts of the plant are poisonous for humans, but the fruit is very good for wildlife. Native to southeast Canada, New England, NY, PA, down the Appalachians, around the Great Lakes, and some scattered spots in the Rocky Mts and south Manitoba. The seed of the plant at Morton Arboretum in the Midwest Collection was collected at Starved Rock State Park in northeast Illinois.


On Nov 22, 2009, bonehead from Cedarhome, WA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Native to my region, well liked by the birds. I have lots in my back woodlot. The berries can be used in jams and wine, but may cause nausea eaten raw.


On Nov 11, 2007, growin from Beautiful, BC (Zone 8b) wrote:

There are three varieties of this North American subspecies occur.

The Coastal Red Elderberry (var. arborescens) has fruits that are bright red smooth and grows to 6 m tall, west of the Cascade (Coastal) Mountains from AK to CA.

The Black Elderberry (var. melanocarpa) has black or purplish-black fruit, slightly wrinkled, 1-6M, east of the Cascade (Coastal) Mountains to AB and south to NM, AZ, NV and N CA.

The Eastern Red Elderberry (var. leucocarpa) has red to purplish-black fruit, plants 0.5-3 m tall occuring East of the Cascade (Coastal) Mountains to PQ and NB and S to TN and GA.