WSU Clark County Extension

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Black Beauty Elderberry

Scientific name: Sambucus nigra 'Gerda'

Type:Deciduous shrubs
Plant Requirements
Zone:6 to 8
Sun:Full to partial sun
Plant Characteristics
Height:10 ft
Width:10 ft
Bloom:Fragrant flowers
Bloom Time:May to June
Bloom Color:Pink
Additional Characteristics



Wildlife value

Description Introduced from England in 2003, the elderberry cultivar known as ‘Black Beauty’ stays dark-leaved all through the summer months. Also sold as ‘Gerda’ in the trade. The deep purple color of the leaves make them appear nearly black.

This deciduous shrub can attain size of 10’ in both height and width. In addition root suckers can emerge which can cause this plant to spread. Leaves are pinnately compound, usually with 5 leaflets.

Pink flowers open in the spring. The flower clusters are classified as cymes, and can attain a width of 10” across. Individual flowers are star-shaped in appearance. Butterflies find them very attractive. Flowers stay open through June. The bloom has a distinctive citrus odor.

In the fall, berries form from the spent flower clusters. Birds find the berries very tasty. The fruit can also be processed into jams and jellies and have been used for wine making.

Widely adapted to most sites, but areas with moist soil are ideal. If desired, this cultivar can be cut back annually, thus keeping it to a height of 6’-8’.

Generally pest free in the dry Maritime summers of the Pacific Northwest.
For assistance, contact Dr. Charles Brun (, (360) 397-6060 5701
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