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FutureStarrCommon Elderberry Sambucus Canadensis
Sambucus canadensis is a deciduous multi-stemmed shrub or small tree native to North America and Central America. It has been extensively cultivated as an ornamental and for its fruits. This species has escaped cultivation and can be found colonizing disturbed areas along roadsides and railroad lines and in disturbed thickets and forest edges. It is a fast-growing species that spreads by seed but can also spread aggressively by underground rhizomes. Currently, S. canadensis is listed as invasive in South Africa and Cuba where it is altering successional processes in disturbed areas. It also has a shallow, aggressive root system with the potential to displace native vegetation.
Sambucus canadensis commonly grows in moist and wet open places, swamps and damp places, riverbanks, lakeshores, meadows, pastures, woodlands, oak forests, riparian forests and along canals. It can also be found colonizing disturbed areas along roadsides and railroad lines and in disturbed thickets and forest edges (Stevens, 2001; Charlebois et al., 2010; Spjut, 2015; Flora of Missouri, 2020).Sambucus canadensis can grow in temperate, tropical and subtropical climates with mean annual precipitation ranging from 400 mm to >2000 mm and mean annual temperature ranging from 5°C to 20°C (tolerates temperatures down to -20°C). In the northern part of its distribution range, this species overwinters in temperatures as low as -40°C. S. canadensis grows best in moist soils with pH ranging from 4.2 to 8.0. It is adapted to grow in swamps and bogs and in transition zones between wetland and upland (Stevens, 2001; Charlebois et al., 2010).
Sambucus canadensis (American Elder) is a multi-stemmed deciduous shrub of loose open habit with arching, spreading branches, clothed in a lush foliage of sharply serrated, bright green leaves composed of 7 leaflets. In early to mid summer, a profusion of lemon-scented white flowers appear in large flat clusters. They give way to black elderberry fruits later in the season. Attractive to birds, the fruits may be used to make jams, jellies and elderberry wine. Good shrub for naturalized areas where suckering spread may be appreciated.Considered a pioneer species and not long-lived, Common Elderberry performs best with low competition from other woody plants and in full sun to light shade. Birds love the fruits and it's a battle of wits to harvest them before the birds get them all, and before the rock-hard seeds become too large. Timed right, it makes great pie, among other things. It blooms much later than the related Red-berried Elder (Sambucus racemosa), which is more common as a woodland understory shrub, has more pyramidal flower clusters, orange-brown pith in 2-year-old branches, and, as the common name suggests, has bright red berries. Its berries are inedible and mature when Common Elderberry is just starting to bloom. Sambucus canadensis is often listed as synonym Sambucus nigra subsp. canadensis, considered by some to be a European counterpart and by others as the accepted name, with S. canadensis the synonym. The debate goes on. There may be several varieties of S. canadensis—information is rather sketchy and, again, there does not appear to be a consensus—but var. canadensis, characterized by hairs on the leaflet veins but not the surface, is found in Minnesota. (Source: www.minnesotawildflowers.info)