sambucus

Many have memories of a wintertime cough being treated with a Grandmother’s Elderberry Cordial, or the jewel-like colors of wine and jam made from the cooked berries on wintertime pantry shelves.

Even if you don’t do any preserving or cooking with Elderberries, Sambucus is a favorite plant of local songbirds, and so would be a very welcome addition to your backyard habitat.

Sambucus generally takes on the size of a large shrub (8-10’), but with sufficient moisture and rich soil can reach tree size (up to about 18-20+’). Because they grow very quickly as seedlings and saplings, they tend to get rangy; some severe pruning early on will encourage fuller growth.

The native Elderberry can be a very handsome specimen, with careful placement and attention to water and pruning; they are attractive in both flower and fruit and would make a colorful addition to the wild garden.

Sambucus racemosa

Sambucus Racemosa: Red Elderberry

This is the Elderberry of the region west of the Cascades, both in the mountains and lowlands. Of the native species it is the more likely to maintain a multi-stemmed shrub form; found along streambanks and in swampy conditions, it can still reach over 10’ in height. In late spring flowers start to form, conical or pyramidal sprays of tiny white flowers. They are followed by clusters of bright red berries that are very attractive to birds and are used in cooking (see sidebar note on toxicity of Sambucus).

Sambucus caerulea 7997

Sambucus caerulea: Blue Elderberry

Tall deciduous shrub (though nearly evergreen in mild climates) growing in a variety of conditions and reaching typically from 15 to 20 feet at maturity, often taking a broad, tree form. This is the eastside Elderberry, more tolerant of dry and hot conditions, though it too thrives with regular moisture; in the wild it is most commonly found along streams and waterways.

Yellow-white flowers, displayed in flat-topped clusters, are followed by intense blue berries that are visible from a long distance and add a distinct beauty. Birds love the berries and they are also often used in cooking and preserves (see sidebar note on toxicity of Sambucus).

Find Natives for your garden

We offer a great selection of Northwest Natives from spring through fall. The plants featured are highlighted favorites, but they do not represent ALL of the plants we carry. For a more complete list, see our Northwest Native Plant List.

Natives

Abies: Native Fir

Natives

Acer Circinatum: Vine Maple

Natives

Actaea: Bugbane

Natives

Aquilegia: Columbine

Natives

Arbutus: Pacific Madrone

Natives

Asarum: Wild Ginger

Natives

Asclepias: Milkweed

Natives

Attracting Butterflies

Natives

Camassia: Camas

Natives

Ceanothus: Wild Lilac

Natives

Cornus sericea

Red Twig Dogwood
Natives

Corylus cornuta

Beaked Hazelnut
Natives

Dodecatheon: Shooting Star

Natives

Edible Fruits

Natives

Erigeron: Fleabane

Natives

Eriophyllum: Oregon Sunshine

Natives

Native Ferns

Natives

Fragaria: Wild Strawberry

Natives

Gaultheria shallon: Salal

Natives

Holodiscus: Oceanspray

Natives

Attracting Hummingbirds

Natives

Native Iris

Natives

Lewisia: Bitterroot

Natives

Mahonia: Oregon Grape

Natives

Malus fusca

Western Crabapple
Natives

Osmaronia: Indian Plum

Natives

Penstemon: Beard Tongue

Natives

Philadelphus: Mock Orange

Natives

Physocarpus

Western Ninebark
Natives

Pinus: Native Pine

Natives

Quercus: Garry Oak

Natives

Rhamnus: Cascara

Natives

Ribes: Wild Currant

Natives

Rosa: Wild Rose

Natives

Rubus: Salmonberry

Natives

Sambucus: Elderberry

Natives

Sedum: Stonecrop

Natives

Sidalcea: Checker Mallow

Natives

Sisyrinchium

Blue-eyed Grass
Natives

Solidago: Goldenrod

Natives

Symphoricarpos: Snowberry

Natives

Synthyris: Native Figwort

Natives

Trillium: Wake Robin

Natives

Vaccinium: Huckleberry

Natives

Vancouveria: Inside-out Flower

Natives

Viburnum trilobum

Cranberrybush
Natives

Viola: Violet

Natives

Winter Interest