Sambucus nigra (subsp.) canadensis


Native to Florida

Species Overview

TOXIC TO LIVESTOCK – See Poisonous Pasture Plants of Florida (UF-IFAS Bookstore Pub SP 457) by B.A. Sellers and J.A. Ferrell. 2010.

Elderberry is in the Honeysuckle family. Elderberry is very poisonous. Elderberry is a native shrub or small tree that typically grows to 10 feet and taller. It is commonly found in moist and wet open places: in swamps, and on banks of canals and other disturbed areas. It grows throughout Florida.

View the herbarium specimen image from the University of Florida Herbarium Digital Imaging Projects.

Species Characteristics

Elderberry produces hanging clusters of blue-black, fleshy berries. The berries are toxic when raw, but edible when cooked. Each berry mostly contains 3 to 5 large seeds. The fragrant flowers of Elderberry appear in large, relatively flat clusters from spring through fall. The cluster itself may be 2 to 10 inches across. Each white flower in the cluster is about an eighth of an inch across and has 5 petals. Elderberry leaves are pinnately compound. Each entire leaf is made of 5 to 11 leaflets, which are arranged oppositely on the leaflet’s stem. The leaflets are lance shaped and in twos. They are 2 to 3 inches long. Higher compound leaves are stalked and also arranged oppositely on the main stems. Many species of aquatic plants have large clusters of white flowers. Some of these plants are edible. However, some are extremely toxic to humans and do cause death. Because these plants are easily confused, it is best to avoid all aquatic plants that have large clusters of white flowers. Elderberry is a large, much-branched bush. It produces clusters of blue-black berries. Its small, white, fragrant flowers are arranged in flat clusters.