Elderberry, Black Elder, European Elder, Bourtree 'Black Beauty'

Sambucus nigra

Family: Adoxaceae (a-dox-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Sambucus (sam-BYOO-kus) (Info)
Species: nigra (NY-gruh) (Info)
Cultivar: Black Beauty
Additional cultivar information:(PP12305; Black Beauty, Gerda)
Hybridized by Tobutt
Registered or introduced: 1999
Synonym:Sambucus graveolens
Synonym:Sambucus peruviana
View this plant in a garden



Foliage Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Flowers are fragrant

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


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

Light Shade


Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Pale Pink

Bloom Time:

Mid Summer


Grown for foliage


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)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From woody stem cuttings

From semi-hardwood cuttings

From hardwood cuttings

From hardwood heel cuttings

Seed Collecting:

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


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


San Jose, California

Susanville, California

East Canaan, Connecticut

Seymour, Connecticut

Boise, Idaho

Garden City, Idaho

Hanna City, Illinois

Portland, Maine

Gaithersburg, Maryland

Roslindale, Massachusetts

Lansing, Michigan

Lincoln Park, Michigan

Omaha, Nebraska

Ithaca, New York

Nineveh, New York

Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Bucyrus, Ohio

Cincinnati, Ohio

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Burritts Rapids, Ontario

Beaverton, Oregon

Portland, Oregon (2 reports)

West Linn, Oregon

Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania

North Augusta, South Carolina

Lexington, Virginia

Lynchburg, Virginia

Kalama, Washington

Seattle, Washington (2 reports)

Stanwood, Washington

Vancouver, Washington

Charleston, West Virginia

Petersburg, West Virginia

Birnamwood, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On May 12, 2013, HouseofFlowers from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

From some of the posts, it appears that people are mixing this plant up with another similarly named.

Because I could not make up my mind, I have both Black Beauty and Black lace. They are VERY different plants. The black beauty grows much more slowly and seems to grow more horizontally than vertically. I have had it for about 2 years now, and I have pruned it and it probably stands close to 3 feet high. It does get branchy, but does not seem to be growing upward. The flowers are there but not as many as the black lace. Still, quite beautiful.

The black lace is completely different. The first year it wasn't very tall....the second year, it was practically touching the gutters. The branches out to the side will grow just as long as it is tall so I do ha... read more


On May 23, 2012, northernswimmer from Washburn, WI wrote:

I have a black lace elderberry that has been in my yard for four years. This spring the growing tips, where the gorgeous pink flowers are, are drooping and dying. Any clue to why this is happening?


On May 22, 2011, Kim_M from Hamburg, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

I have never seen a perennial plant grow this fast. I planted this plant last Fall at about 20 inches. It stands almost 6 feet tall and it's only May. Therefore hasn't been a year.


On Jun 15, 2010, 240169thstreet from Lafayette, IN wrote:

I have two Black Beauties for three growing seasons. One gets about 6 hours of direct sun and the remainder of the daylight hours partial sun. The other gets about 4 of direct sun and then partial sun. They both have grown very well with the former now about 7' tall and about 8-10' wide. The latter is about 5-6' tall and 6-7' wide. The one that gets the most sun blooms more profusely but the other does have quite a few blossoms. I have one other that is now in its second growing season but it is located further from the house and the deer keep nibbling on it so as a consequence its growth has been limited. No problems whatsoever with pests. I apply a balanced fertilizer twice a season and mulch them.


On May 15, 2010, gatodelsol from Stanwood, WA wrote:

This shrub has grown successfully in my Pacific Northwest garden (in fact, so well I have to hard prune it to keep it from getting too large for its location! I'm keeping it to about 5ft tall by about 4ft wide). I absolutely love this plant! Even before blooming, the deep purple foliage is very striking, but when it blooms, the delicate pale pink blooms are such a gorgeous contrast - they might not last long, but it's quite a show when it blooms! I'm moving soon, and hope to have the same success with this lovely shrub in my new home - I definitely plan to have more!


On Jun 7, 2009, mdvaden from Beaverton, OR wrote:

Planted late summer 2008 at 24" tall. It over-wintered great through one of the Portland area's more snowy and cold winters with temps near the teens. Sprouted fine this spring 2009 with over 3' of stem growth before June 1st, and loaded with big flowers the last half of May with more opening into June. Foliage looks great, no pest problems. Planted on the south side of house in full exposure, 2" of mulch. 5' tall now, expecting 10' next year at this rate.


On Sep 6, 2008, BlackDogKurt from Seymour, CT wrote:

This shrub has never grown more than a foot tall for me and instead wants to spread out horizontally despite my attempts to get it to grow upwards. It has also never bloomed for me either.


On Mar 20, 2008, peteunia from Clear Spring, MD wrote:

I have had 2 Black Beauties since 2002. They grow very well in my zone 5 climate but they have yet to bloom. I think the first year I had one or two blooms on one and then the other but nothing since. I heard you were supposed to prune them after flowering but if they never flower then what. How do I get them to bloom.



On Jan 19, 2008, Chickadee12 from Brookfield, CT (Zone 5b) wrote:

I love this plant to death, but unfortunately so do the slugs! I wish for it to grow big and beautiful, but I can't get the slugs to go away. I hope I can come up with something this year, I would hate to lose this beautiful plant!


On Jun 12, 2007, braun06 from Peoria Heights, IL (Zone 5b) wrote:

I have seen great ones in nurseries but have been very unimpressed with it in my own yard. In full sun it still always remained green with spots of purple. I have some Black Lace and have liked them better so I removed my Black Beauty. I wouldn't recommend this plant but only for personal reasons. The flowers are pink but are around for maybe a week. All around its still just an elderberry to me. Black Lace is far more ornamental.