Blue elderberry

Sambucus nigra ssp. mexicana


Blue elderberry is a small to medium size deciduous tree native to the coastal sage scrub, southern oak woodland and chaparral plant communities across California. It has light green foliage and produces large umbels of creamy-white flowers in spring; dark blue berries mature in summer and are favored by birds. It tolerates many soil types, including calcareous, and survives extended periods of drought by shedding leaves under stress. Plants that become established in deeper soils and receive greater moisture will grow to larger sizes and produce a greater abundance of flowers and berries.

The blue elderberry is most often planted for wildlife value in native gardens and restoration projects throughout Southern California. Occasionally it is planted in residential gardens as a shade tree and in perimeter areas to provide screening.

Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Foliage Character: Drought deciduous
Habit: Mounding
Growth Rate: Fast
Foliage Color: Medium green
Flower Color: Cream
Flower Season: Spring
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil, Silt, Moist soil, Loam, Clay, Calcareous soil
Exposure Adaptations: Heat, Frost, Drought, Aridity, All day sun
Function: Wildlife value, Slopes, Restoration, Parks and open space, Flowering accent plant, Banks, Background plant
Height: 10 ft. – 25 ft.
Width: 10 ft. – 25 ft.