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Sambucus nigra

Sambucus nigra

Sambucus nigra
Sambucus nigra subspecies caerulea  (Blue Elderberry).  Synonym: Sambucus coerulea.
Adoxaceae (Muskroot Family)

Foothills, montane. Woodlands, openings. Spring.
Above and left: Priest Gulch Trail, September 29, 2009 and August 10, 2016.

Sambucus nigra grows to twelve feet tall with flower clusters from two to eight inches across.  The plant is found in all counties of Utah and Arizona, most counties of New Mexico, and just a few counties of Colorado. It is pictured on this page in moist bottomlands near a creek but it is also found on drier sites.

Linnaeus named this genus in 1753 and Rafinesque named the species in 1838 from specimens collected by Meriwether Lewis in the Oregon Territory, probably in 1805.

Genetic research places the Sambucus genus in Adoxaceae. 

"Sambucus", an ancient musical instrument, refers to the use of the hollow stems as a whistle and "nigra" means "black" or "dark ".

Sambucus nigra

Sambucus nigra subspecies caerulea  (Blue Elderberry).  Synonym: Sambucus coerulea.
Adoxaceae (Muskroot Family)

Foothills, montane. Woodlands, openings. Spring.
Priest Gulch Trail, September 29, 2009.

Thick-pithed stems grow a number of feet in a year and can be one-to-five inches in diameter.

Leaves are compound, composed of 5-9 leaflets, each of which is up to 6 inches long and a bit over 2 inches wide.  Leaflets are prominently veined and finely serrated and they tend to droop.

Sambucus nigra

Sambucus nigra

Sambucus nigra

Sambucus nigra

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Sambucus nigra subspecies caerulea  (Blue Elderberry).  Synonym: Sambucus coerulea.
Adoxaceae (Muskroot Family)

 

Foothills, montane. Woodlands, openings. Spring.
Priest Gulch Trail, August 10, 2016 and September 29, 2009.

 

 

The inflorescence of this Sambucus is flat-topped in contrast to the pyramid shape of S. racemosa's inflorescence.

 

 

The four photographs to the left show the progression from yellow-green flower buds, to fully opened flowers, to immature green fruits, to the final blue mature fruits

 

Fruits of S. nigra are, according to Stanley Welsh (Utah flora expert), great in pancakes.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Sambucus nigra