An Overview of the Elder Berry Tree and Its Many Uses

Possibly one of the most prolific and most accessible to grow plants in the plant kingdom, the Elder Berry tree is most commonly known as Sambucus, one of nearly 25 classes of shrubs/trees found in the muscatel family, Adoxaceae. Being such, the Sambucus has been re-classified many times due to genetic nuances. While it is overwhelmingly found in the Northern Hemisphere, it likewise appears in many temperate to subtropical landscapes of Australasia and South America.


Also known as Canadensis, the Elder Berry tree can grow to full 7, 10, and 15 feet heights with a spread from 6-10 feet. However, much depends on the class of Sambucus Canadensis and its nuances with other plant species in that family. Its leaves are oval-shaped, and it blossoms off-white heads of flowers that, in turn, produce a distinctive sweet fragrance. Consequently, the flowers are then followed by an abundant supply of purplish-blue berries in the fall. Maturity can be reached within three to four years, depending on the species or sub-species.

Soil Adaptability:

Typically, Elder Berry trees can mostly tolerate and adapt to several soil types; however, they especially do well in the damp, fertile soil surrounding swamp/marsh areas. They are resistant to dry, drought conditions; however, if one needs to plant in sandy areas, it is advisable to add organic matter around the root area. They enjoy full sun or partial shade and thrive well in USDA growing zones three or higher.


As they are typically robust, fast growers, it is best to plant Elder Berry trees at the beginning of spring nurtured by a thorough watering schedule after the initial planting. Generally, watering should be maintained at least on a once a week basis during the first year.


Used primarily as a beautiful ornamental for hedges, fences, and well-known for their enduring strength, they bring homeowners a bonus in being also pest-free. This, plus their natural purplish-blue beauty, makes them very appealing to homeowners as they are easy to grow.

Culinary Purposes:

The plant's white flowers are typically used for making fine liqueurs such as cordials, wine, champagne, and brandy. The Elder Berry is a particular favorite for baking pies, preserves, jellies, chutney, and tea.

Medicinal Purposes:

The tree's fruit has been used for over 1,000 years and is mainly known for being an excellent flu-fighting agent far surpassing the attributes of the latest flu vaccines. The fruit makes a superb antioxidant consisting of Vitamin C and Potassium; moreover, it has also proven extremely effective in being an immune system booster. Today, the Elder Berry tree continues to carry the distinction of being one of the most popularly sought-after trees in the Western Hemisphere.