European Red Elder, Red Elderberry 'Sutherland Gold'

Sambucus racemosa

Family: Adoxaceae (a-dox-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Sambucus (sam-BYOO-kus) (Info)
Species: racemosa (ray-see-MO-suh) (Info)
Cultivar: Sutherland Gold
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Foliage Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

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

Flowers are fragrant

Water Requirements:

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

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)


6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)


USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)

USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)

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)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun


Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:


Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer


Grown for foliage



Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:

Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:

Unknown - Tell us

Seed Collecting:

Unknown - Tell us


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

Huntsville, Alabama

Blytheville, Arkansas

San Leandro, California

Susanville, California

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Townsend, Delaware

Batavia, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois

Washington, Illinois

Waukegan, Illinois

Grand Haven, Michigan

Muskegon, Michigan

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Kalispell, Montana

Coram, New York

Cincinnati, Ohio

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Salem, Oregon

Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania

Norristown, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

North Augusta, South Carolina

Nashville, Tennessee

Lexington, Virginia

Smithfield, Virginia

Kalama, Washington

Port Angeles, Washington

Vancouver, Washington

New Lisbon, Wisconsin

Presque Isle, Wisconsin

Laramie, Wyoming

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Gardeners' Notes:


On Jun 28, 2014, plantgnome1 from nowhere land, NY (Zone 6b) wrote:

I have one in a partial shady area under tall trees, it is so pretty and delicate. The color is striking. Mine has never gotten berries.
As for being poisonous-I have three toddler grandchildren who visit and I have educated them on plants and not to eat anything from them and I don't let them eat anything at all even if it is edible. Unless it is in the refrigerator, they don't eat it. And there are hundreds of plants that are poisonous as well. Kids should always being supervised. So yes the tree may be dangerous-so are swimming pools-kids shouldn't be left alone. .
Tired of seeing people give negative reviews because a plant is poisonous. Who goes around eating plants anyway?


On Apr 1, 2012, KariGrows from New Lisbon, WI (Zone 4b) wrote:

I have my Sutherland Gold elderberry in a morning sun , afternoon filtered, spot, just outside of my path to a woodland garden. It has had two winters with me and has grown quickly to about 4 feet tall and wide . I will prune it after blooming this year, and it is full of buds on each branch. I am not worried about the poisonous issue as there are no children here, although I do have a number of cats and two dogs. There are many poisonous plants around, .. I have not had any problems
I find this elderberry to be an asset to my garden, beautiful in its spring color and never seems to need special care. I bought this and black lace, but this is my favorite.


On Mar 6, 2011, Amoena from Nashville, TN wrote:

I'm not sure why fhj52 is so down on this plant, when SOOO MANY, (if not MOST) ornamental plants are toxic if eaten. Even the foliage of potatos & tomatoes are toxic! I hardly think that is a good reason to ban them from the garden. Besides which, I have eaten numerous berries from the native species, P. nigra subsp. canadensis, which grows wild on my property. The berries are most assuredly NOT poisonous! (Just don't eat any other part.)
Anyway, I planted a specimen of S. racemosa 'Southerland Gold" about six years ago, in a dry, shady area. It never particularly thrived, but the foliage was very attractive. I have since moved, and decided to try again- this time in a moister, sunnier area. Although it has not bloomed for me yet, this is a lovely foliage plant, easy to gro... read more


On Nov 25, 2007, fhj52 from Blytheville, AR (Zone 7b) wrote:

All parts of the Sambucus * (elderberry) plant are poisonous except some specific cultivars' berries and the flowers produced for those. Red berried Sambucus are just flat out dangerous to have around.

Poisonous Part
Leaves, twigs (stems), roots, unripe fruits.
Toxic Principle
Cyanogenic glycoside and alkaloid.
Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, coma.

The level of toxic response is determined by quantity ingested and the individual's level of susceptibility. It is difficult to state unconditionally what would happen because there are twin poisoning paths.

In 'english' that means a strong, healthy adult would most likely only get a severe stomach ache, but a child or sickly person could become ... read more


On Aug 6, 2006, Soferdig from Kalispell, MT (Zone 4b) wrote:

This is an awesome chartreuse arching highlight to a shaded area in the garden. It looks like a green spray out of a firehydrant in the garden. Mine has lots of afternoon sun and thrives well in this area. I cut mine back to about 3 ' every year to get the fountain over my waterfall.


On Mar 12, 2006, Gabrielle from (Zone 5a) wrote:

My information says this can take partial sun.