Elderberry – Why you want two

Have you ever heard the phrase, “The best time to plant a tree is five years ago.”? Well, that’s kind of how I feel about Elderberry (even though it’s a shrub).

Elderberry, a native shrub to North America, can be grown in (hardiness) zones 3 – 10 and can be planted in virtually any condition. It grows anywhere from full sun to part shade. They are very adaptable to different soils, but thrive in wet areas (where a lot of others can’t).

American Elder flowers

Their résumé looks pretty good too. If you are looking for a plant to do some work for you or provide you with more than something to look at, they are a very useful shrub. They attract beneficial insects to the garden, their white flowers can be used for tea, and their edible blue-black berries can be used for a quite tasty medicinal elderberry syrup (which is very tempting to pour onto pancakes), can be made into elderberry wine or used for jams and pies.

And , if you’re looking to bring wildlife to your yard, they also attract birds both because of their multistemmed form, where the birds with take cover, and their fruit serves as a bird buffet. Elderberries can get quite large though, ranging from 6 – 12 both high and wide, and they need a friend as a pollinator in order to get fruit so you can’t plant just one, you’ll for sure need two, but if you have the room, plant a few or more that way there will be enough fruit for you to bake, brew and share with both friends and the birds.

Did I mention they have fall color? They are beautiful in the fall as well!

American Elder Fall Color

Elderberry is one of the coolest plants that I don’t have in my yard, but it is definitely at the top of my list to plant this year.

Photos from University of Minnesota Extension


16 Comments to “Elderberry – Why you want two”

  1. Can you make wine from teh Elderberry?
    happy A-Z April!


  2. Kate, we had elderberry in our yard for years. It suckered like crazy. But we only had one and it flowered and produced gobs of fruit every year. I got to the point where I pruned it up (so easy sometimes i would just snap off the branches… so it looked a bit like a big standard). fun to play with that’s for sure.


    • They do have that suckering habit, don’t they. I tend to find that habit less annoying when they give me food. Making it into a standard would be kind of cool! Did you make anything with the berries?


  3. Mmmm… my parents had a whole slew of wild elderberry bushes around the house when I was younger. My mom made jam with them, and my Dad made wine. My mom also grew currants. Jam with a mixture of currants and elderberries is delicious 🙂
    Happy Blogging!

    Kaye Draper at Write Me


    • Kaye,
      I’m drooling just reading about this! Currants are on my list of plants to add to my yard too. I can imagine the combination of currants and elderberries would be wonderful. Thanks for stopping and for “planting the seed”, so to speak. 🙂


  4. I am going to have to check into elderberry. You have totally sold me on it! I used to go crazy with flowers upon flowers but I’ve realized that I need more grasses and shrubs.

    Check out my A to Z! Jen Hemming and Hawing Again


  5. I LOVE that red fall color! I really want to plant some pretty flower shrubs but the desert climate isn’t too good for many. I just checked and it seems like my area is in the hardiness zone for this plant. YAY! I SO need to get me one! Or two!


  6. We had elderberries when I lived in the north – LOVE the beauty of the whole cycle form spring flowers through berries to fall leaves. Sadly, in disposing of the wild blackberries that were consuming the area, the elderberry bushes went too. Never made wine. but the jam is good!


  7. We had these where I grew up but I wish I had some space for them now.


  8. Any chance it would grow in Rio de Janeiro, I’d would love to try. Elderberry jam would be my choice, the wine’s good but lethal. Happy A to Z.


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