Elderberries: What's the Deal with America's New Favorite Plant?

Elderberries: What's the Deal with America's New Favorite Plant?

Elderberries Around Spoon

The Elderberry Shrub is a multi-purpose shrub that everyone is raving about. The three main go-to Elderberry shrubs are Black Lace, Golden, and York. Whatever your wants and needs are, this shrub will be able to do the trick for you.

The different color schemes and personalities of these plants is what makes them so special. From dark purple to yellow-golden foliage, it meets a variety of garden needs. It doesn’t just stop at the uniquely colored foliage either. 

These Elderberry shrubs also produce the cutest flowers. Looking for petite light pink or large full white flowers? Elderberry shrubs aim to please and can offer either depending on the variety!

We haven’t even scraped the surface of this deciduous shrubs appeal, Elderberries have so much more to offer with their delightful little berries. After cooking these berries, they make for the perfect afternoon snack, such as jams and jellies, pies and tarts, or syrups. 

You will spot native Elderberries growing along riverbanks and fence lines over a wide area. Elderberries have been known for their beautiful colors as well as their usefulness, thanks to its sweet berries. 

Yes, the rumors are true. Elderberries and their various plant parts can be poisonous, in fact, we’ve got a whole blog about it. We’re here to tell you though that they aren’t harmful at all as long as you know what you’re doing. 

Elderberries are known to be the game-changer in the kitchen, as long as you avoid consuming the seed, stems, leaves, and roots. Once cooked, the berries can be used in as many different ways as you can think of! 

Elderberry fruits are superfruits high in antioxidants and wonderful for coughs and colds when cooked into a syrup. 

Now that you know that they are harmless after being cooked, and rather delicious. Don’t miss out on what all this hype is all about!

Which Elderberry Do you Need?

Black Lace Elderberry

This Black Lace Elderberry (Sambucus nigra ‘Eva’) is one like you haven’t seen before with its dark purple-black foliage that contrasts beautifully with its fragrant soft-pink flowers. This shrub takes your idea of a basic Elderberry and throws it out the window to bring an extra pop to your garden. 

This unique shrub will leave a dramatic impact due to its dark narrow leaves and lemon-scented blooms that work its magic in the spring. In the early spring, the lacy foliage of darker tones tends to emerge in fabulous fashion.

If planted with a pollinating partner, your plant will spot large, flat-topped clusters of dark, healthy fruits. 

Golden Elderberry

The Golden Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis ‘Aurea’) has golden-yellow leaves with flat white flowers that bloom in the summer months. The white star-shaped flowers cluster together to form miniature bouquets on top of its foliage. 

This shrub also produces small black berries from summer into fall when planted near other pollinators. These petite berries are small, but their flavor is anything but that after being cooked.

Wanting a low-maintenance shrub with a lot of ornamental interest for your backyard? Then you’re in the right place because this plant is ready to be that difference-maker.

York Elderberry

Now let’s talk about the most basic of Elderberries - The York Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis ‘York’). Way back when it was used as staple medicine for Native American Indians, as well as early settlers and explorers. 

You’d think this Elderberry would be in retirement by now, but it continues to be the most prolific Elderberry producer. 

This Elderberry produces dark purple, almost black fruit that blooms in the late summer. Pick the cluster of fruit when ripe and cook to have the perfect afternoon snack. 

The beautiful shrub has light green foliage with profusion of large clusters of white flowers that are extremely showy. This Elderberry does wonders in landscaping and really struts its stuff like you’ve never seen before.

Complete your garden with a plant that has both berries and flowers today!

Uses In The Garden

In the landscape, Black Lace Elderberries contrasts incredibly well with evergreen trees and shrubs. The dark purple tones add the extra jazz that most other plants can’t offer to your garden. 

This shrub was not born to be a follower that’s for sure. It doesn’t have just one basic shape, but instead has a free-form personality. You can plant it in an area where it can stretch out and flaunt its magnificent self. Or chose to fashion the shrub into a tall, thin purple waterfall. 

The Black Lace Elderberry works wonders in any area of your yard. Either in a large concrete container on your porch where its beautiful color can emerge from the gray shade, or as a hedge around your patio. 

The Golden Elderberry contrasts attractively with surrounding green bushes within your garden. This shrub would look outstanding as a border along your property line with its golden-yellow leaves to draw attention. 

This deciduous shrub does have rapid growth and can grow up to 5-12 feet tall and about 7 feet wide. Since this magnificent plant has a wide growing range, be sure to plant with plenty of growing space. 

The York Elderberry doesn’t need other plants to make it look fabulous. It does it on its own. You can use this Elderberry as an independent specimen shrub. 

Planting it alone, gives this plant the ability to grow to its full potential of about 11 feet tall and 8-12 feet wide. Wow, that seems large, but you can cut it down to your personal preference if need be. Elderberries can easily be kept at your definition of a perfect size after pruning the plant once a year. 

If you have a large landscape, then this shrub works wonderfully as a border along your pond or water structure. Using it for multiple purposes adds a beautiful color scheme to the landscaping and perfect privacy shrub.

#ProPlantTips for Elderberry Care

Everyone likes to be treated like royalty every now and then. Well, so do Elderberry shrubs. 

These Elderberry shrubs are low-maintenance and easy-going once planted properly. Planting in either full sun or partial shade with well-drained soil allows the shrub to grow to its full potential.

Be aware that new purple and yellow-leaved cultivars may produce some fruit if they are nearby plants that they can cross-pollinate with. 

Work smarter, not harder and save time in the long run by adding mulch around your shrub to allow for consistent moisture during hot summer months. Ideally, apply 3-4 inches of mulch out 4 feet from the center of the plant.

During the winter each year, you should spoil your Elderberry shrub by cutting out about one-third of the oldest canes to the ground, leaving the younger stems in place for the best bloom and fruiting possible. 

Health Benefits of Elderberry

You can’t go wrong with a plant that not only is a fabulous ornamental outside, but also an amazing snack inside. It is simply the best of both worlds. 

Your friends might say blueberries are the way to go but Elderberries hold just as many if not more nutrients and you have the added benefit of looking like a master gardener with your native plant knowledge.

A little fun fact for you, if you have seen “Sambucus” pills at your local health food store, then you were looking at the pill form of an Elderberry!

As previously mentioned, Elderberries have been used in the past to treat a cold and flu. Although these berries have been famously noted to improve immune systems, they have also been known to be poisonous if you aren’t careful!

No need to worry though, just steer clear of the stems, leaves and roots. Instead, take the time to harvest the berries and use them in the kitchen. Still a little lost? We’ve got you covered with some ideas!

In the Kitchen with Elderberries

What makes these berries healthy is the fact that they consist of Vitamin A, B, and more C. Even more than our current go-to vitamin-packed Orange. A yummy, healthy snack is almost too good to be true. Almost.

We’ve all had to suffer through regular store-bought cough syrup. Did you know using Elderberry syrup makes for a highly effective alternative. Gone are the days of artificial flavors.

You’re probably wondering what you have to do to be able to enjoy these delicious berries. Well, it's as simple as this - slowly stew the berries down into a syrup. 

Now you can enjoy these delicious berries in pies, jams, and wine. Boiling these berries might make them slightly bitter, but nothing that a spoonful of sugar can’t fix! 

These Elderberries make cooking seem easy with their sweet taste in whatever dessert you choose to make. Not to mention they’ll make you look like a gourmet cook to your guests.

Order your Elderberry shrub of choice today with Nature Hills Nursery! Happy planting!

← Previous Next →