E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia
Sambucus racemosa L. red elderberry (black elder (var. melanocarpa); black elderberry; coastal red elder (var. arborescens); coastal red elderberry; eastern red elder (var. leucocarpa); eastern red elderberry) Adoxaceae (Honeysuckle family) (Previously in Caprifoliaceae)
General: Deciduous, erect, large shrub, 1-6 m tall; twigs thick, soft, pithy, usually somewhat glaucous; bark dark reddish-brown, warty.
Leaves: Opposite, stalked, large, compound, pinnately divided into 5-7 elliptic to lanceolate leaflets, often asymmetric at the base, abruptly sharp-pointed at the tip, saw-toothed on the margins, and usually somewhat hairy beneath.
Flowers: Inflorescence of numerous, small flowers in a 4-10 cm long, egg-shaped to conical cluster with short lateral branches on a stronger central axis; corollas white or cream, wheel-shaped; petals fused at base into a short flat tube that spreads (3-6 mm across) at the top to 5 lobes, the lobes longer than the tubes and becoming reflexed.
Fruits: Berrylike, globose, 5-6 mm across, shiny red or purplish-black, occasionally brown, yellow, or whitish, but not glaucous, with 3 small, smooth to wrinkled or pebbled stones, each enclosing a seed.
Notes: Three varieties of this North American subspecies occur in BC. Fruits black or purplish-black; nutlets slightly wrinkled or pebbly var. melanocarpa (A. Gray) McMinn. Fruits bright red (sometimes yellow or white); nutlets mostly smooth or slightly wrinkled or pebbly. Nutlets mostly smooth; plants 2-6 m tall var. arborescens (T.& G.) A. Gray. Nutlets slightly wrinkled or pebbly; plants 0.5-3 m tall
Moist to mesic meadows, ditches, streambanks, grasslands, shrublands, disturbed areas and forests in the lowland, steppe and montane zones; var. arborescens is common in and W of the Coast-Cascade Mountains, var. melanocarpa is common E of the Coast-Cascade Mountains and less frequent to the W of them, var. leucocarpa is infrequent in SC and SE BC; var. arborescens – N to AK and YT and S to CA; var. melanocarpa – E to AB and S to NM, AZ, NV and N CA; var. leucocarpa – E to PQ and NB and S to TN and GA.
A shade-tolerant to shade-tolerant/intolerant, sub montane to subalpine, circumpolar deciduous shrub (transcontinental in North America). Occurs on fresh to very moist, nitrogen-rich soils within boreal, temperate, and cool mesothermal climates; its occurrence decreases with increasing elevation. Scattered to plentiful in open-canopy forests on water-receiving sites. Indicative of rapid decomposition of forest floor materials (originally Mor humus forms) remaining on cutover or fire-disturbed, water-shedding sites. Usually associated with Alnus rubra, Athyrium filix-femina, Epilobium angustifolium, Rubus parviflorus, and R. spectabilis. A nitrophytic species characteristic of Moder and Mull humus forms.
Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2020. E-Flora BC:
Electronic Atlas of the Plants of British Columbia [eflora.bc.ca]. Lab for
Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British
Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed:
2020-07-10 3:40:57 AM
The information contained in the E-Flora atlas pages is derived from expert
sources as cited in each section. This information is scientifically based.
E-Flora also acts as a portal to other sites via deep links. As
always, users should refer to the original sources for complete information.
E-Flora BC is not responsible for the accuracy or completeness of the