T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Sambucus nigra (Black elderberry)

Kingdom:   Plantae
(unranked):        Angiosperms
(unranked):        Eudicots
(unranked):        Asterids
Order:       Dipsacales
Family:      Adoxaceae
Genus:      Sambucus
Species:     S. nigra
Binomial name: Sambucus nigra
Synonyms: Sambucus Canadensis, Sambucus nigra L. subsp. nigra
Common names: Black elderberry, Common elder, Elder, Elderberry, Black elder, European elder, European elderberry, European black elderberry

Sambucus nigra is a deciduous shrub native to most of Europe including north-western Africa, the Azores, the Madeira Islands, Europe and western Asia (i.e. western Iran, northern Iraq, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and south-western Russia).
In New Zealand it is regarded as an environmental weed. Sambucus nigra is invasive and will form dense stands replacing native trees and shrubs.

It is a small tree growing up to 6m in height. The bark is a light grey when young, but changes to a darker grey with vertical furrowing. The stems have a white pith.

The distinctively smelly green leaves are arranged in opposite pairs, 10–30 cm long, pinnate with five to seven (rarely nine) leaflets, the leaflets 5–12 cm long and 3–5 cm broad and have finely saw-toothed margins. The very young leaves are purple in colour.

From November onwards hermaphrodite flowers are borne in large, flat corymbs 10–25 cm diameter. The individual flowers with five petals are a dull white and are 5–6 mm diameter. They are pollinated by flies attracted to the flowers foetid smell.  The flowers are followed by round, shiny, black fruits, 3–5 mm diameter. These fruits are eaten by birds, which spread the tree to other areas.  Sambucus nigra prefers sunny conditions including both wet and dry fertile soils.

Trees growing east Taihape.



  





The ripe fruit.


Top surface of a leaf.


the underside of a lweaf.


Shrub growing in the Canterbruy foothills.