European Red Elder, Red Elderberry

Sambucus racemosa

Family: Adoxaceae (a-dox-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Sambucus (sam-BYOO-kus) (Info)
Species: racemosa (ray-see-MO-suh) (Info)
Synonym:Sambucus callicarpa
Synonym:Sambucus microbotrys
Synonym:Sambucus racemosa var. racemosa
View this plant in a garden



Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade

Light Shade

Partial to Full Shade

Full Shade



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)


Unknown - Tell us


USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

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

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Winter/Early Spring

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

Unknown - Tell us

Seed Collecting:

Unknown - Tell us


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Anchorage, Alaska

Minneapolis, Minnesota

, Newfoundland and Labrador

Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Portland, Oregon(7 reports)

Millersburg, Pennsylvania

Lexington, Virginia

Bellingham, Washington

Blakely Island, Washington

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Gardeners' Notes:


On Mar 22, 2006, Malus2006 from Coon Rapids, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

I tried S. pubens, Scarlet Elder, but it appears it is a syn. This bush is very shade tolerant, and birds left seedlings all over my yard, even though the closest bush is not visible. Birds loves this species. I am trying it as a bush for the shade.

Blooming time is early spring, often after a long enough warm spell. For me, this is one of a small group of native bushes that blooms in early spring along with the hepticas and other early blooming plants. If you have a elderberry that blooms in early spring, this is it. If it blooms in early summer it may be American Elderberry or Black Elderberry. Leaves appear with the blooms, but don't expand to their full size until the flowers are finished. Seedlings appear under old specimens of old fashion lilac, and even under trimmed... read more


On Aug 12, 2001, mystic from Ewing, KY (Zone 6a) wrote:

European Red Elderberry grows as an upright large shrub or small tree, commonly 8 to 20 feet tall. The leaves are opposite, simple, pinnate, compound; stipules are absent or minute. Tiny white flowers are borne in large, upright, dome-shaped clusters and have a strong odor when they appear in May/June.

The fruit is small (1/16" to 1/8"), usually red and berry-like borne in upright, dome-shaped clusters; unpalatable when raw - and may be TOXIC to some - but edible when cooked.