Sambucus canadensis (American, Common or Canada Elderberry) is native to a large area of North America east of the Rocky Mountains, and south through eastern Mexico and Central America to Panama. It grows in a variety of conditions including both wet and dry soils, primarily in sunny locations.
It is a deciduous suckering shrub growing to 3 m or more tall. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs, pinnate with five to nine leaflets, the leaflets around 10 cm long and 5 cm broad. In summer, it bears large (20–30 cm diameter) corymbs of white flowers above the foliage, the individual flowers 5–6 mm diameter, with five petals.
The fruit is a dark purple to black berry 3–5 mm diameter, produced in drooping clusters in the fall. The berries and flowers are edible (although it is recommended that the berries be either cooked or fermented to make an excellent preserve or wine), but other parts of the plant are poisonous, containing toxic cyanogenic glycosides. Sambucus canadensis fruits are purported to contain lower amounts of the glycosoides.
Some taxonomists identify the plant as Sambucus nigra subsp. canadensis.
Second Photo Courtesy of W.A. Berg, via Wikipedia Commons
Third Photo Courtesy of H. Zell via Wikipedia Commons
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