Canada elderberry

Canada elderberry

Sambucus canadensis

Common Name:

Canada elderberry

Scientific Name:

Sambucus canadensis


Alternative common names:

Elderberry, American elder, sweet elder.

Description:

The Canada elderberry is a large flowering shrub with multiple stems. The upper surface of the leaflet is darker green and the underside is paler with fine white hairs on the veins. The creamy-white flowers are small and the fruit is a small berry-like drupe, which begins green, then turns reddish and eventually purplish-black. The roots, stems, leaves and bark are very toxic.

Additional Information


Where does this species come from?

Eastern and Midwestern United States of America.

What is its invasive status in South Africa?

NEMBA Category 1b.

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape.

How does it spread?

It is spread by birds and mammals.

Why is it a problem?

It contains a glycoside that can be harmful to humans and livestock.

What does it look like?

Leaves: Pinnate, with 2-4 pairs of opposite leaflets and one terminal leaflet. The upper surface of the leaflet is darker green and the underside is paler with fine white hairs on the veins.

Flowers: Creamy-white flowers are borne in large, flat clusters in late spring to midsummer.

Fruit/seeds: Fruit is a small, berry-like drupe about 1/4 inch in diameter, which begins green, then turns reddish and eventually purplish-black. The fruit is edible once boiled and has a slight bitter taste.

Does the plant have any uses?

Used as nesting cover for animals. It is also used for erosion control in moist areas, as a decoration plant and occasionally for reclamation planting, The leaves and flowers are used for pain relief and to reduce swelling. The berries are used in traditional dishes as food flavouring and in elderberry wine, and are high in vitamin C.

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