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Other Species: A - C

Blue Elder (Sambucus cerulea)

Family: Caprifoliaceae or Honeysuckle

Leaves: Opposite; once pinnately compound; 4" to 7" long; deciduous; 5 to 9 leaflets with short stalks, coarsely serrate margins, narrow and ovate to oblong, 1" to 6" long, green and glabrous on top, lighter and glabrous or pubescent beneath.

Twigs/buds: Twigs stout; somewhat angled or ridged; brownish-red; large, triangular leaf scars that nearly circle stem; pith large and soft. No terminal bud; lateral buds green, scaly.

Flowers/fruit: Flowers perfect; small; yellow-white; in large, showy, flat-topped clusters at the ends of the branches; appear in June or July. Fruit a berry-like drupe; dark blue; 1/4" diameter; sweet, juicy, and edible; matures in late summer.

Bark: Brown with some red; thin; scaly.

Wood: Not important; soft; weak; heartwood yellow; diffuse-porous.

General: Native to much of the western U.S., including most of Utah. Grows in moist areas along streams in the mountains. Fairly short-lived. Shade intolerant, but likes protected sites.

Landscape Use: Seldom used, but could be in a native-type landscape. Fruit is collected and used for jellies, jams, pies, and wine. Flowers are quite attractive and open well into the summer. Though generally a shrub or small tree, I have seen a blue elder near the Guinavah-Malibu amphitheater in Logan Canyon that was 20' to 30' high and 8" to 10" in diameter. Zones 4-8. Red elder (Sambucus racemosa), with its red fruit, also is native to higher elevation sites in Utah, but always occurs as a shrub.

Comments and Limitations:

  • Prefers abundant water.