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Sambucus nigra 'Purpurea'

Common Name:
Black elderberry
Plant Type:
Deciduous shrub
Adoxaceae (formerly in Caprifoliaceae)
Geographic Origin:
Central and Eastern Europe
California Native?:
Plant Size:
To 8 feet+
Landscape/Garden Uses:
Mixed plantings
Flowering Season:
Flower Color:
Sun or light shade
Most soils
Suggested Irrigation:
Moderate watering
Estimated Hardiness:
Hardy to 0 degrees F. or less
The elderberries are a group of shrubs and small trees in the honeysuckle family, never well known in California, though we have some beautiful native species. S. nigra grows to about 20 feet high if unrestrained, but can be shaped into a smaller fountain or parasol. The stems are thick, forming attractive bark as they age. 'Purpurea' has uniformly brownish purple leaves up to 8 inches long, paired along the stems and divided feather-like into several large leaflets. Broad, yarrow-like clusters of cream flowers tinged purple are borne at the shoot tips in summer, followed by small red berries which turn nearly black as they mature. Sun or light shade, most soils, moderate watering.