E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Sambucus cerulea Raf.
blue elderberry
Adoxaceae (Honeysuckle family)
(Previously in Caprifoliaceae)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Val George  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #30226)

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Distribution of Sambucus cerulea
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Sambucus cerulea ssp. cerulea

Species Information

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Deciduous, erect shrub, occasionally a small tree, 1-5 (sometimes to 10) m tall, the trunk diameter to 25 cm, often several-stemmed from basal suckers; twigs soft, pithy, glaucous; old bark finely fissured.
Opposite, stalked, large, compound, pinnately divided into 5-9 leaflets, which are lanceolate to narrowly egg-shaped, 5-15 cm long and 2-6 cm wide, often asymmetric at the base, abruptly sharp-pointed at the tip, saw-toothed on the margins, and usually glabrous.
Inflorescence of numerous, small flowers in a flat-topped, 4-20 cm wide, umble-like cluster with 4-5 spokes; corollas wheel-shaped, white or cream; petals fused at base into short, flat tubes that spread (4-7 mm across) to 5 lobes that are longer than the tubes.
Berrylike, globose, 4-6 mm across, powder blue (bluish-black with a heavy, waxy bloom), with 3-5 wrinkled stones, each enclosing a seed.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Moist to mesic meadows, grasslands, shrublands, disturbed areas and open forests in the lowland, steppe and montane zones; common in S BC; S to MT, AZ, NM and CA.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Sambucus cerulea

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 207 891 1715
Slope Gradient (%) 0 25 71
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
14 190 340
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
2 3 6
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: BG(3), CWH(7), ESSF(6), ICH(14), IDF(5), MS(1), PP(1)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

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