UCCE Master Gardeners of Orange County
University of California
UCCE Master Gardeners of Orange County


Shrub-Tree- Blue Elderberry

Sambucus mexicana photo by Mollivan Jon
Common Name: Blue Elderberry

Botanical Name: Sambucus mexicana

Family: Caprifoliaceae

Description: Deciduous shrub or tree native from California to British Colombia

Full sun or part shade: Full sun to light shade

Water: Drought tolerant but prefers some water in summer months

Soil: Any soil

Habit and form: Grows rapidly to 10 to 30 feet tall and 8 to 20 feet wide

Flower type: White to cream colored flowers in flat-topped clusters

Sambucus mexicana photo by David Hofmann
Flower color & bloom season: Spring and summer blooms; blue to black berries follow

Uses for plant and/or flowers: Birds like the berries; fruit can be made into pies, jams, wine

Pruning time & method: Prune shrubs hard when dormant to keep dense; train trees to single or multiple trunks when young

Maintenance tips: Prune each year to maintain shape and form; can be cut to ground

Comments: Effective as screen or windbreak


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