Red-berried elder

Sambucus racemosa L.

Family: Caprifoliaceae (honeysuckle)

  • Bloom Period:
    • Early,
  • Growth Cycle:
    • Perennial,
  • Growth Habit:
    • Shrub,
    • Tree,
  • Insect Type Attracted:
    • Natural Enemy,
    • Pollinator,
  • Light:
    • Full,
    • Partial,
  • Region:
    • Northern Lower Peninsula,
    • Upper Peninsula
  • Soil Moisture:
    • Medium,
  • Height:
    • 4-6ft

Natural enemies attracted

Mildly attractive: Thomisidae and Empididae.

Pollinators attracted

Mildly attractive: Andrenid bees.

Pests attracted


Plant notes

White, fragrant flower clusters bloom very early in the season. Shrubs grew to 4 ft tall in 3 years, and will grow up to 6 ft tall. Plants bloomed in early May. This species was the second least attractive to natural enemies in the early season.


Red-berried elder grows in full to partial sun, and mid-range soil moisture (neither very wet nor very dry). It naturally occurs along clearings, trails and borders in beech-maple woods. It may also be associated with conifers in thickets, mixed woods, and sometimes swamps.

Cultivation and management

This plant can be grown from seed (flowers in third year) or plug material (flowers in second year). Bright red berries mature in June/July, following flowering. This is a good shrub for attracting birds.