WSU Clark County Extension

PNW Plants Searchable, categorized images

Blue Elderberry

Scientific name: Sambucus caerulea

Type:Deciduous shrubs
Plant Requirements
Zone:4 to 8
Sun:Full sun
Plant Characteristics
Height:25 ft
Width:10 ft
Bloom:Showy flowers
Bloom Time:April to June
Bloom Color:White
Additional Characteristics



Wildlife value

Description This Northwest native shrub is thought of for its use in making jam, pie and wine with the fall production of the blue fruit.

This is a Northwest broadleaf deciduous shrub which can attain a height of 15’-30’ and can grow 10’ wide. Over time it forms a dense thicket with all the pithy stems that it bears.

Leaves are arranged in an opposite pinnately compound fashion. Each leaf is 6”-12” long and consists of 5-9 lanceolate leaflets, each of which are 2”-6” long and less than 2” wide. The leaflets have serrated edges. They are dark green above and paler beneath.

Flowers are classified as being both monoecious (separate male and female), as well as perfect (dioecious). They have 5 yellowish white lobes but are only ¼ “ across. They are borne in flat-topped umbels in early summer.

Later the flowers morph to dark blue round fruit which are one quarter inch across. Berries typically have a whitish bloom covering them. While they are edible they are not considered all that desirable for fresh consumption as they are full of small seeds. They can cause nausea if eaten raw, but ripe berries are edible when cooked (best in preserves).

Stems are stout, soft, and possess a spongy pith.
The leaves, green fruits and stems of members of this genus are poisonous. The stems, bark, leaves and roots contain cyanide-producing glycosides, and are therefore poisonous, especially when fresh.

Blue elderberry prefers a sunny location along the forest edge. It thrives on moist soils, including those that flood.

None reported.
For assistance, contact Dr. Charles Brun (, (360) 397-6060 5701
Computing and Web Resources, PO Box 6234, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-6234