Page authors: Ben Legler, David Giblin
Sambucus racemosa
red elderberry

Distribution: Widely distributed on both sides of the Cascades crest in Washington; Alaska to California, east to the Rocky Mountains, northern Great Plains, Great Lakes region, and eastern North America.

Habitat: A wide variety of habitats, typically in forests, forest edge, fields, and wet areas.

Flowers: March-July

Origin: Native

Growth Duration: Perennial

Conservation Status: Not of concern

Pollination: Bees, flies, wasps, beetles, sawflies


Large shrub to 6 meters tall; the twigs with a soft pithy center.


Opposite, pinnately compound with 5-7 lanceolate leaflets.


White or creamy, minute; in large pyramidal clusters at ends of branches.


Small berries 5-6 mm across, usually bright red, but sometimes purplish-black.

Identification Notes:

Look for opposite pinnately compound leaves, pyramidal clusters of tiny white flowers, and red or purple-black fruits (S. nigra ssp. caerulea has flat-topped flower clusters and bluish-white fruits).

Accepted Name:
Sambucus racemosa L.
Publication: Sp. Pl. 1: 270. 1753.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
(none provided)
Additional Resources:

PNW Herbaria: Specimen records of Sambucus racemosa in the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria database.

WA Flora Checklist: Sambucus racemosa checklist entry.

OregonFlora: Sambucus racemosa information.

E-Flora BC: Sambucus racemosa atlas page.

CalPhotos: Sambucus racemosa photos.

USDA Plants: Sambucus racemosa information.

100 photographs:
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