Blue Elderberry (Sambucus nigra ssp. cerulea) is a deciduous shrub native to western North America. It thrives in a variety of environments, from moist, lowland areas to dry, higher elevations, adaptable to USDA zones 3 to 10.
Growing to heights of 6 to 12 feet, the Blue Elderberry forms a bushy, spreading shape. It features compound leaves and clusters of small, creamy-white flowers that bloom in late spring to early summer, attracting pollinators.
The shrub is renowned for its light blue berries, which ripen in late summer to fall and are a valuable food source for wildlife. These berries are also edible for humans when cooked and are commonly used in jams, jellies, syrups and wines. Typically blue elderberry have heavier yields than black or red elderberry. Blue Elderberry plants are self fertile.
All parts of the plant contains toxic alkaloids. Berries should be cooked before eating which makes them safe to eat. Attracts birds and butterflies.
Blue Elderberry prefers well-drained, moderately fertile soil and can tolerate a range of conditions, including drought and poor soils. It's an excellent choice for naturalized or wildlife gardens and for erosion control due to its rapid growth and spreading habit.
For successful cultivation, provide regular watering, especially in dry conditions, and prune as needed to maintain shape and size.