A comprehensive database of Tennessee native plants
Scarlet Elder, Red-berried Elderberry, Red Elderberry
Sambucus racemosa (Sambucus pubens)
Sun to light shade; moderately wet to medium moisture level; prefers deep, loamy, nutrient-rich soils but tolerates rocky or sandy loams over bedrock, medium loams to moderately fine silt loams; slightly acid to slightly alkaline pH.
6-12 feet height by 6-12 feet spread; blooms spring into summer; creamy white flowers; clusters of pea-sized brilliant red berries.
Growth Rate: Fast
Maintenance: Infrequent disease and insect problems. Frequent ice and wind damage in winter. Severe pruning will prevent a spindly growth habit. Dead terminal twigs are common.
Propagation: Easy from cuttings. Difficult from seed. Seed has a double dormancy; pre-treat 30-60 days warm moist (20-30 degree C.) and then 90-150 days cold moist (5 degrees C.)
Large deciduous shrub or small tree in the Honeysuckle family with a broad, arching form. Red fruit is inedible for humans with a disagreeably bitter taste, but birds love the berries. All parts can cause serious illness for humans if eaten. Shade tolerant but prefers a sunny exposure. Very high wildlife value. Attracts birds, hummingbirds, butterflies and bees. Cultivars available.