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20 November 2019

Sambucus nigra (elder)

Datasheet Types: Invasive species, Tree, Host plant, Crop

Abstract

This datasheet on Sambucus nigra covers Identity, Overview, Associated Diseases, Pests or Pathogens, Distribution, Dispersal, Hosts/Species Affected, Diagnosis, Biology & Ecology, Environmental Requirements, Natural Enemies, Impacts, Uses, Prevention/Control, Management, Genetics and Breeding, Economics, Further Information.

Identity

Preferred Scientific Name
Sambucus nigra L.
Preferred Common Name
elder
International Common Names
English
black elder
common elder
elderberry
European elder
Spanish
sambugo
sauco común
French
seu
sureau
sureau noir
Russian
buzina chernaya
Portuguese
sabugueiro
sabugueiro-negro
Local Common Names
Czech Republic
bez cherny
Germany
Schwarzer Holunder
Italy
sambuco nero
Netherlands
gewone Vlier
Norway
fläder
Poland
dziki bez czarny
Romania
soc negru
socul
Sweden
flaeder
EPPO code
SAMNI (Sambucus nigra)

Pictures

S. nigra (Elderberry or Elderflower), young foliage and flowers. Oxfordshire, UK. May 1999
Flowers and foliage
S. nigra (Elderberry or Elderflower), young foliage and flowers. Oxfordshire, UK. May 1999
©A.R. Pittaway

Overview

The American elderberry (Sambucus canadensis, Caprifoliaceae = Adoxaceae) and European elderberry (Sambucus nigra) are the primary cultivated species of this genus, which contains about a dozen species. Fruit of the cultivated types are very dark purple, nearly black, but the various species range from bright red to blue and dark purple. The mild-flavoured fruit ripen in mid- to late summer. For commercial harvest, the entire cluster is picked and the entire crop is processed into juice or purée. Elderberry bark, roots, stems, flowers and fruit have been used by Native American cultures as drugs, foods and to produce toys and tools. In Europe and America, especially in rural areas, the fruit have been gathered from the wild and used to make wine, juice and jams/jellies; they are often blended with more strongly flavoured fruit. Flowers are picked, coated with batter and fried or infused in water and citrus juice to make an aromatic, refreshing drink. Elderberries are purported to have tremendous nutraceutical value as antioxidants and as a treatment for colds and the flu. 
Botany Elderberry is a large deciduous shrub or small tree (4–6 m). The large, pinnately compound leaves are typically dark green although ornamental selections have been identified that are variegated, lime green and dark purple and have become very popular plants for landscaping. Hundreds of small, white hermaphroditic flowers are borne in flat umbels in the two commercial species but may also be borne in panicles in other species in the genera. The flower clusters are typically produced on shoots from apical or near apical buds. The flowers are insect pollinated. As with the flowers, the fruit are individually small (0.3–0.6 cm) but collectively the hundreds of fruit produce very large fruit clusters. Ecology Sambucus spp. are primarily native to the northern hemisphere, although it has become naturalized throughout much of the temperate and subtropical regions where humans live. They prefer full sun or partially shaded exposures on moist soils. Because the fruit are highly desirable to birds, elderberry rapidly colonizes moist areas along railways, roadways, forest edges and fence lines. 
While a myriad of insects, diseases and viruses may attack elderberry, they seldom are so serious as to cause significant yield reduction. As there are no insecticides and fungicides that are recommended for elderberry, good field sanitation is the primary control method for insects and diseases. Tomato ringspot virus, a nematodeborne virus, can be a serious problem but purchasing virusfree plants, avoiding soils with known nematode problems and not planting near wild elderberry plants can go a long way to controlling this virus. 

Importance

Under natural conditions, S. nigra is a component of brushwood of various types of forest communities, and very easily colonizes both natural and man-made forests and many locations of the species have an anthropogenic origin. It has a somewhat invasive character, especially in anthropologically changed sites, such as abandoned fields or grasslands (Kollmann, 1995; Decaens et al., 1997) and even communal rubbish or rubble heaps. It also colonizes forests and poplar plantations established on abandoned agricultural land, forming an often dense understorey (Duvigneaud et al., 1981). The wood of S. nigra is heavy and quite durable, but poorly used due to the rather small dimensions of the timber. It is sometimes used for fence poles in traditional rural economies. The pith from 1-year-old branches is used in microscopy for making sections of plants. The species has been planted as a garden tree for centuries, mostly for consumption and medicinal needs, but also as a decorative plant. Fruits of the species are used for making confitures, jellies, juice and for vine dyeing (Browicz, 1988; Bounous and Peano, 1990). Many cultivars of the species have been selected for these purposes (Smatana et al., 1988; Samann, 1989; Christensen, 1996; Kaak, 1997). Dried fruits, flowers and cortex from this tree have been used as diaphoretic and diuretic medicins (Villar et al., 1987). The medicinal properties of S. nigra and its toxicity have been known since antiquity.

Summary of Invasiveness

S. nigra is a component of woody scrub vegetation that may appear on previously disturbed ground that has remained uncultivated for some years. It does not withstand regular cultivation and chemical control appears effective. It is generally invasive in hedgerows, roadsides and field margins, and unmanaged grasslands. Since it is frequently found as an understorey shrub in its native range, it is a potential woodland invasive in non-native areas. However, it is also a valuable fruit-producing tree and is likely to be further introduced as a commercial species.

Taxonomic Tree

This content is currently unavailable.

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Sambucus is a large genus with a variety of changing synonymy recorded and some apparent continuing taxonomic confusion. USDA-NRCS (2002) uses the all-embracing species concept of S. nigra including three subspecies, subsp. nigra native to Europe, and the North American natives subsp. canadensis (L.) R. Bolli and subsp. cerulea (Raf.) R. bolli, which are, however, raised to species rank in most taxonomies. S. nigra L. is used here in its strict sense as the European native species (=S. nigra subsp. nigra L.).

A range of cultivars of S. nigra have been described, including: Aurea, Guincho Purple and Laciniata (Boskovic and Tobutt, 1992), Sambu, Sampo, Samidan, Samdal and Samyl (Kaack, 1989; 1997), and Haschberg, Donau, Pragarten and Tulbing (Strauss and Novak, 1982). Some of these have been raised to forms, f. alba, f. aurea, f. lacinata and f. pendula (USDA-ARS, 2003), and some have been raised to varieties, var. aurea (Kulikov and Uleiskaya, 1993), var. lacinata (USDA-NRCS, 2002) and var. rotundifolia. Clearly, there remains some confusion as to the relative rank and classification of the intraspecific morphological variation found within the species. A natural hybrid between S. nigra and S. racemosa, found together with its parents in southern Sweden, was intermediate between the parents in inflorescence shape, flower size, and colour of flowers, pith and fruit (Nilsson, 1987).

Plant Type

Perennial
Broadleaved
Seed propagated
Tree
Shrub
Woody

Description

S. nigra is a bushy, fast-growing shrub or small tree reaching 8-10 m tall and 20-30 cm diameter (Hegi, 1966). It often has straight, vigorous, erect shoots from the base, branches often arching. Bark is brownish-grey, often deeply furrowed and corky. Twigs are stout, greyish with prominent lenticels, leaflets 3-9 cm long, often 5-7 cm, ovate-lanceolate or ovate-elliptical, acuminate, rarely orbicular or deeply dissected, sparingly hairy on veins beneath, serrate; leaves with 5-7 leaflets, sometimes as few as 3, stipules none or small and subulate. Inflorescence flat topped, 10-20 cm in diameter, with 5 primary rays, Corolla c. 5 mm in diameter, flowers creamish white, anthers cream, fruits black, globose, 6-8 mm, sometimes greenish-yellow, containing 3-5 seeds.

Botanical Features

S. nigra is a bushy, fast-growing shrub or small tree reaching 8-10 m tall and 20-30 cm diameter (Hegi, 1966). It often has straight, vigorous, erect shoots from the base, branches often arching. Bark is brownish-grey, often deeply furrowed and corky. Twigs are stout, greyish with prominent lenticels, leaflets 3-9 cm long, often 5-7 cm, ovate-lanceolate or ovate-elliptical, acuminate, rarely orbicular or deeply dissected, sparingly hairy on veins beneath, serrate; leaves with 5-7 leaflets, sometimes as few as 3, stipules none or small and subulate. Inflorescence flat topped, 10-20 cm in diameter, with 5 primary rays, Corolla c. 5 mm in diameter, flowers creamish white, anthers cream, fruits black, globose, 6-8 mm, sometimes greenish-yellow, containing 3-5 seeds.The North American native S. canadensis is closely related to S. nigra but may be separated by the teeth of the leaves being smaller and sharper than in S. nigra and the leaf points attenuated. The hummocky inflorescence in the later and protracted flowering period is also very characteristic (Wiggington and Graham, 1981).

Distribution

It occurs in the whole of Europe (with the exception of the northernmost parts of the continent) and also in Africa and south-west Asia. The approximate latitudinal limits of its native range are 34°N to 63°N.

Review of Natural Distribution

S. nigra occurs in the whole of Europe (with the exception of the northernmost parts of the continent) and also in Africa and south-west Asia (Browicz, 1988; Meusel et al., 1992). The approximate latitudinal limits of its native range are 34°N to 63°N.

Under natural conditions the species is a component of brushwood of various types of forest communities on fertile and relatively humid soils containing carbonates. S. nigra very easily colonizes both natural and man-made forests and many locations of the species have an anthropogenic origin. It has a somewhat invasive character, especially in disturbed sites such as abandoned fields or grasslands (Kollmann, 1995; Decaens et al., 1997) and even communal rubbish or rubble heaps. It also colonizes forests and poplar plantations established on abandoned agricultural land, often forming a dense understorey (Duvigneaud et al., 1981). S. nigra is also a shrub of open areas and woodland edges and is associated with eutrophic and disturbed soils and thick S. nigra scrub can develop in open areas of woodland (Mayer and Reimoser, 1978). S. nigra is one of the commonest riparian shrubs within the catchment of the Great Ouse and other managed watercourses in eastern England (Mason and Macdonald, 1990; Harper et al., 1997). S. nigra is also described from a grassy scrub landscape formed in recently grazed areas at the edges of a marsh (Jans and Drost, 1995) and is associated with post-1837 hedges in a study of hedgerow field boundaries in the parish of Knock, County Mayo, Ireland (Condon and Jarvis, 1989).

It is known to invade abandoned fields and grasslands (Kollmann, 1995; Decaens et al., 1997) and poplar plantations established on abandoned agricultural land (Duvigneaud et al., 1981).

Location of Introductions

S. nigra has been introduced to various parts of North and South America, Africa, Asia and Australasia, though few exact records for first introduction exist. It was introduced into New Zealand in 1867 (Owen, 1996).

Distribution Map

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Distribution Table

This content is currently unavailable.

History of Introduction and Spread

It has been introduced to various parts of North and South America, Africa, Asia and Australasia, though few exact records for first introduction exist. It was introduced into New Zealand in 1867 (Owen, 1996).

Risk of Introduction

Further introductions are likely as seed is widely available and there are a variety of cultivars available.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

Birds feeding on the fruit are likely to be the main dispersal agents of seed, though other small mammals may also have a role. For example, increased gull colonization in offshore islands is thought to encourage the rapid dominance of S. nigra. Seed are likely to be dispersed along watercourses but their viability following immersion in water is not known. Intentional introduction is likely due to the commercial value of S. nigra and the availability as seed from mail order companies and various websites.

Pathway Vectors

Pathway vectorNotesLong distanceLocalReferences
Mail (pathway vector)InternetYes  

Plant Trade

Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
Flowers/Inflorescences/Cones/Calyx
weeds/seeds
   
Fruits (inc. pods)
weeds/seeds
   
Growing medium accompanying plants
weeds/seeds
   
Seedlings/Micropropagated plants
weeds/seeds
weeds/fruits
weeds/whole plants
weeds/flowers
weeds/stems
   
Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches
weeds/stems
   
True seeds (inc. grain)
weeds/seeds
   
Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport
Bark
Bulbs/Tubers/Corms/Rhizomes
Leaves
Wood

Hosts/Species Affected

It is known to invade abandoned fields and grasslands (Kollmann, 1995; Decaens et al., 1997) and poplar plantations established on abandoned agricultural land (Duvigneaud et al., 1981).

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

The North American native S. canadensis is closely related to S. nigra but may be separated by the teeth of the leaves being smaller and sharper than in S. nigra and the leaf points attenuated. The hummocky inflorescence in the later and protracted flowering period is also very characteristic (Wiggington and Graham, 1981).

Habitat

Under natural conditions the species is a component of brushwood of various types of forest communities on fertile and relatively humid soils containing carbonates. S. nigra very easily colonizes both natural and man-made forests and many locations of the species have an anthropogenic origin. It has a somewhat invasive character, especially in disturbed sites such as abandoned fields or grasslands (Kollmann, 1995; Decaens et al., 1997) and even communal rubbish or rubble heaps. It also colonizes forests and poplar plantations established on abandoned agricultural land, often forming a dense understorey (Duvigneaud et al., 1981). S. nigra is also a shrub of open areas and woodland edges and is associated with eutrophic and disturbed soils and thick S. nigra scrub can develop in open areas of woodland (Mayer and Reimoser, 1978). S. nigra is one of the commonest riparian shrubs within the catchment of the Great Ouse and other managed watercourses in eastern England (Mason and Macdonald, 1990; Harper et al., 1997). S. nigra is also described from a grassy scrub landscape formed in recently grazed areas at the edges of a marsh (Jans and Drost, 1995) and is associated with post-1837 hedges in a study of hedgerow field boundaries in the parish of Knock, County Mayo, Ireland (Condon and Jarvis, 1989).

Habitat List

CategorySub categoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial    
TerrestrialTerrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural landPresent, no further detailsHarmful (pest or invasive)
TerrestrialTerrestrial – ManagedManaged forests, plantations and orchardsPresent, no further detailsHarmful (pest or invasive)
TerrestrialTerrestrial – ManagedManaged grasslands (grazing systems)Present, no further detailsHarmful (pest or invasive)
TerrestrialTerrestrial – ManagedDisturbed areasPresent, no further detailsHarmful (pest or invasive)
TerrestrialTerrestrial – ManagedRail / roadsidesPresent, no further detailsHarmful (pest or invasive)
TerrestrialTerrestrial – ManagedUrban / peri-urban areasPresent, no further detailsHarmful (pest or invasive)
TerrestrialTerrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forestsPresent, no further detailsHarmful (pest or invasive)
TerrestrialTerrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalRiverbanksPresent, no further detailsHarmful (pest or invasive)
TerrestrialTerrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalWetlandsPresent, no further detailsHarmful (pest or invasive)

Biology and Ecology

Genetics

The chromosome number of S. nigra is 2n=28, with 2n=36 also reported.

Physiology and Phenology

Flowering is generally in June and July in Europe. Seed dormancy is orthodox.

Reproductive Biology

Wertheim (1981) describes propagation in cultivation of S. nigra from cuttings taken in the winter, preferably from strong unbranched 1-year shoots and Strauss (1978) indicates propagation of cultivars can be from hardwood cuttings in October, from softwood cuttings under glass in the summer, or from suckers.

Environmental Requirements

S. nigra is strictly stenohydric (Linnenbrink et al., 1993), mesophytic, nitrophilous, frost tolerant and somewhat drought tolerant species, tolerating annual rainfall below 500 mm (Eichstadt and Mahn, 1993). It does have very specific site requirements and is tolerant to soils of low fertility and exposed areas. The species grows mostly on lowlands and on lower levels of mountains. It has an altitudinal limit of 1550 m in the Alps in Europe, 2200 m in Africa in the Atlas and 2300 m in the Pontus Mountains in Asia. It has the ability to regenerate rapidly if cut and is generally noted as shade tolerant, though Kollmann and Reiner (1996) describe S. nigra as not establishing easily in strongly shaded environments. S. nigra is tolerant to pollutants in the soil; it is able to survive on heavily contaminated land within 1-2 km of the copper smelter 'Legnica' in western Poland (Rebele et al., 1993).

Associations

S. nigra is described from a variety of woodland habitats in Europe. Helliwell et al. (1996) list S. nigra as one element of dense shrub understorey in disturbed ash/oak woodland and Sgardelis and Usher (1994) also indicate S. nigra as forming a dense understorey in a mixed deciduous and coniferous woodland in the UK. S. nigra is also described as a minor forest tree or shrub species, present in mountain and/or marginal areas of Italy (Bounous and Peano, 1990). Hetsch and Schmitt (1993) identify a distinct Humulus lupus / S. nigra community from forest margins in northern Germany. Characteristic shrub associations dominated by S. nigra are successional to ruderal forest characterized by Acer spp., bottomland species and on dry sites, Robinia pseudoacacia (Fischer, 1975). In studies in a deciduous forest in southern Poland over 5 years, the browse of Euonymus europaea, S. nigra and Crataegus oxyacantha were most preferred by deer (Bobek et al., 1979). In a study of food requirements, S. nigra is also listed by Negrutiu and Boghez (1972) as one of the most important species for roe deer.

Climate

S. nigra is strictly stenohydric (Linnenbrink et al., 1993), mesophytic, nitrophilous, frost tolerant and somewhat drought tolerant species, tolerating annual rainfall below 500 mm (Eichstadt and Mahn, 1993).

Soil and Physiography

S. nigra does not have very specific site requirements and is tolerant to soils of low fertility and exposed areas.The species grows mostly on lowlands and on lower levels of mountains. It grows up to 1550 m in Europe (the Alps), 2200 m in Africa (the Atlas) and 2300 m in Asia (the Pontus Mts.) (Browicz, 1988, Boratynski et al., 1992, Meusel et al., 1992). It grows best on fertile and relatively humid soils containing carbonates. It has the ability to regenerate rapidly if cut and is generally noted as shade tolerant, though Kollmann and Reiner (1996) describe S. nigra as not establishing easily in strongly shaded environments. S. nigra is tolerant to pollutants in the soil; it is able to survive on heavily contaminated land within 1-2 km of the copper smelter 'Legnica' in western Poland (Rebele et al., 1993).

Vegetation Types

coniferous forests
deciduous forests
grasslands
riparian forests
secondary forests

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude lower (m)Altitude upper (m)
633402300

Air Temperature

ParameterLower limit (°C)Upper limit (°C)
Absolute minimum temperature-39 
Mean annual temperature420
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month1531
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month-177

Rainfall

ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration00number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall4001800mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

Summer
Bimodal
Uniform

Soil Tolerances

Soil texture > medium
Soil texture > heavy
Soil reaction > acid
Soil reaction > neutral
Soil reaction > alkaline
Soil drainage > free
Soil drainage > impeded

Soil Types

acid soils
alkaline soils
alluvial soils
calcareous soils
clay soils
grassland soils

Notes on Pests

Placochela nigripes induces galling of flower buds in S. nigra (Robbins, 1999). In Germany, a disease of S. nigra and S. racemosa was observed with foliar symptoms such as reddening, yellowing, reduced leaf size and premature leaf drop as well as dieback and decline. Mycoplasma-like organisms were detected in about 40% of affected plants (Lederer and Seemuller, 1991). Banerjee (1956) presents the biology of Auricularia auricula-judae (Linn.) Schoet. causing rot in S. nigra and describes the progress of decay in infected trees in Scotland, UK. Potential enemies to cultivated S. nigra in the Netherlands include the arthropod pest Synanthedon culiciformis. With respect to elderberry production, Muller (1977) describes difficulties in controlling Aphis sambuci using sprays.

List of Pests

This content is currently unavailable.

Notes on Natural Enemies

Placochela nigripes induces galling of flower buds in S. nigra (Robbins, 1999). In Germany, a disease of S. nigra and S. racemosa was observed with foliar symptoms such as reddening, yellowing, reduced leaf size and premature leaf drop as well as dieback and decline. Mycoplasma-like organisms were detected in about 40% of affected plants (Lederer and Seemuller, 1991). Banerjee (1956) presents the biology of Auricularia auricula-judae (Linn.) Schoet. causing rot in S. nigra and describes the progress of decay in infected trees in Scotland, UK. Potential enemies to cultivated S. nigra in the Netherlands include the arthropod pest Synanthedon culiciformis. With respect to elderberry production, Muller (1977) describes difficulties in controlling Aphis sambuci using sprays.

Natural enemies

Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Aphis sambuci (elder aphid)Herbivore
Growing point
Stems
    
Placochela nigripesHerbivore
Inflorescence
    

Impact Summary

CategoryImpact
Animal/plant collectionsNone
Animal/plant productsNone
Biodiversity (generally)None
Crop productionNone
Environment (generally)None
Fisheries / aquacultureNone
Forestry productionNegative
Human healthNone
Livestock productionNone
Native faunaPositive
Native floraNone
Rare/protected speciesNone
TourismNone
Trade/international relationsNone
Transport/travelNone

Impact

There are no studies as to the economic effects of invasion by S. nigra. There are, however, positive impacts from commercial sale of the flowers, fruits and their processed products.

Impact: Environmental

The effects of S. nigra invasion have not been quantified, but where they form dense stands along watercourse, they may be expected to have effects on local hydrology.

Impact: Biodiversity

The copious fruit production is a valuable source of food for birds and other wildlife, and as such, the presence of S. nigra will probably have only positive effects on fauna biodiversity, whereas effects on other plant species are unknown.

Impact: Social

S. nigra is often well utilized by local people as valuable fruit and flower crop. In such contexts it has a positive social impact.

Risk and Impact Factors

Invasiveness

Invasive in its native range
Highly adaptable to different environments
Has high reproductive potential

Impact outcomes

Negatively impacts agriculture

Impact mechanisms

Competition - monopolizing resources

Likelihood of entry/control

Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately

Uses

S. nigra has a wide range of uses. It is frequently cultivated across parts of Europe for elderberry production (Steffek, 2002). Fruits of the species are used for making confitures, jellies, juice and also for the extraction of dyestuffs (Bounous and Peano, 1990) and many cultivars of the species have been selected for these purposes (Smatana et al., 1988; Christensen, 1996; Kaack, 1997). The flowers of S. nigra are also used in the preparation of drinks and medicines (Pleva, 1982). Bridle and Timberlake (1997) and Bronnum-Hansen and Hansen (1983) identify S. nigra as a source of anthocyanin food colourant. The species has been planted as a garden tree for centuries, and as an ornamental, decorative plant for amenity purposes. It has also been planted for erosion control.The wood of Sambucus nigra is heavy and quite durable, but poorly used due to the rather small dimensions of the timber. It has, however, been used as a source of sawn or hewn building timbers and for the production of exterior fittings: fences, woodware and for industrial and domestic woodware. Due to its whiteness, close grain and good cutting and polishing properties, the wood is very suitable for making pegs and other small wooden items including use by watchmakers and others concerned with delicate instruments (Metcalfe, 1948). It is sometimes used for fence poles in traditional rural economies. The pith from 1-year-old branches is used in microscopy for making sections of plants. Dried fruits, flowers and cortex from this tree have been used as diaphoretic and diuretic medicines (Villar Perez et al., 1987). The medicinal properties of S. nigra and its toxicity have been known since antiquity, and have also been used as a source of natural pesticides. The medicinal properties of S. nigra are widely referred to in the literature. Products of S. nigra (sambucol) are natural remedies with antiviral properties, especially against different strains of influenza virus (Barak et al., 2001). Nemeth and Bernath (2001) list S. nigra among the main medicinal species collected from natural populations in Hungary. S. nigra is used in Turkish folk remedies for the treatment of various diseases which are thought to be inflammatory in nature (Yesilada et al., 1997). S. nigra is one of a list of plants identified by Benoit-Vical et al. (1996) that are frequently used to treat malaria. Based on a survey in the Lattari Mountains in Italy, S. nigra was identified as one of several species in which medicinal properties are of significance (Feo and Senatore, 1993). S. nigra is used in the treatment of oedematous swellings, dry coryza of infants, and respiratory problems (Parmar et al., 1993). Efremov et al. (1994) recommended commercial exploitation of S. nigra as a medicinal plant. S. nigra is classified as a useful reservoir of aphid parasites with respect to management programmes (Stary and Neemec, 1986). Smith and Secoy (1981) also identify S. nigra as being used for agricultural pest control in western Europe before 1850. In a study of Central European forests on the ecological protection of forest against insect pests, S. nigra was found to be advantageous only against Epiblema nigricana (Turcek, 1963).

Uses: Wood Uses

The wood of S. nigra is heavy and quite durable, but poorly used due to the rather small dimensions of the timber. It has, however, been used as a source of sawn or hewn building timbers and for the production of exterior fittings: fences, woodware and for industrial and domestic woodware. Due to its whiteness, close grain and good cutting and polishing properties, the wood is very suitable for making pegs and other small wooden items including use by watchmakers and others concerned with delicate instruments (Metcalfe, 1948). It is sometimes used for fence poles in traditional rural economies. The pith from 1-year-old branches is used in microscopy for making sections of plants.

Uses: Non-Wood Uses

S. nigra has a wide range of uses. It is frequently cultivated across parts of Europe for elderberry production (Steffek, 2002). Fruits of the species are used for making confitures, jellies, juice and also for the extraction of dyestuffs (Bounous and Peano, 1990) and many cultivars of the species have been selected for these purposes (Smatana et al., 1988; Christensen, 1996; Kaack, 1997). The flowers of S. nigra are also used in the preparation of drinks and medicines (Pleva, 1982). Bridle and Timberlake (1997) and Bronnum-Hansen and Hansen (1983) identify S. nigra as a source of anthocyanin food colourant. Dried fruits, flowers and cortex from this tree have been used as diaphoretic and diuretic medicines (Villar Perez et al., 1987). The medicinal properties of S. nigra and its toxicity have been known since antiquity, and have also been used as a source of natural pesticides. The medicinal properties of S. nigra are widely referred to in the literature. Products of S. nigra (sambucol) are natural remedies with antiviral properties, especially against different strains of influenza virus (Barak et al., 2001). Nemeth and Bernath (2001) list S. nigra among the main medicinal species collected from natural populations in Hungary. S. nigra is used in Turkish folk remedies for the treatment of various diseases which are thought to be inflammatory in nature (Yesilada et al., 1997). S. nigra is one of a list of plants identified by Benoit-Vical et al. (1996) that are frequently used to treat malaria. Based on a survey in the Lattari Mountains in Italy, S. nigra was identified as one of several species in which medicinal properties are of significance (Feo and Senatore, 1993). S. nigra is used in the treatment of oedematous swellings, dry coryza of infants, and respiratory problems (Parmar et al., 1993). Efremov et al. (1994) recommended commercial exploitation of S. nigra as a medicinal plant. S. nigra is classified as a useful reservoir of aphid parasites with respect to management programmes (Stary and Neemec, 1986). Smith and Secoy (1981) also identify S. nigra as being used for agricultural pest control in western Europe before 1850. In a study of Central European forests on the ecological protection of forest against insect pests, S. nigra was found to be advantageous only against Epiblema nigricana (Turcek, 1963).

Uses: Land Uses

The species has been planted as a garden tree for centuries, and as an ornamental, decorative plant for amenity purposes. It has also been planted for erosion control.

Uses List

General > Ornamental
Environmental > Agroforestry
Environmental > Erosion control or dune stabilization
Environmental > Revegetation
Materials > Pesticide
Materials > Poisonous to mammals
Materials > Wood/timber
Medicinal, pharmaceutical > Source of medicine/pharmaceutical
Medicinal, pharmaceutical > Traditional/folklore

Wood Products

Roundwood > Posts
Sawn or hewn building timbers > Exterior fittings
Sawn or hewn building timbers > Fences
Woodware > Brushes
Woodware > Cutlery
Woodware > Industrial and domestic woodware
Woodware > Tool handles

Prevention and Control

Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.
Mechanical Control

Clive (1964) indicates that the mechanical crushing of dense scrub, in which S. nigra was an element, is a viable option for scrub control. In winter cereal crops it was found that S. nigra were favoured by reduced cultivation and by direct drilling (Pollard and Cussans, 1981), suggesting that increasing cultivation was required to reduce the incidence of this weed.

Chemical Control

Growth suppression was pronounced in young S. nigra plants treated with CCC (Jasa, 1972), controlled by ammonium sulphamate (Bergmann, 1968) and considerable die-back to complete root kill with increasing doses of picloram. Low-volume applications of a new herbicide, 1:1 -ethylene-2:2 -dipyrilium dibromide gave good top-kill of various brush species, including S. nigra, though there was basal regeneration (Brian et al., 1958). S. nigra can be controlled by cutting down or burning.
Biological Control

There are no records of biological control being employed on S. nigra.

Integrated Control

Regular cutting proved satisfactory for reducing dominant tall vegetation if combined with selective herbicides for problem weeds such as S. nigra (Worrall and Palmer, 1988).

Silviculture Characteristics

S. nigra is a mesophytic, nitrophilous, shade tolerant and somewhat drought tolerant species without very specific site requirements. Flowering is generally in June and July in Europe. Seed dormancy is orthodox. Wertheim (1981) describes propagation in cultivation of S. nigra from cuttings taken in the winter, preferably from strong unbranched 1-year shoots and Strauss (1978) indicates propagation of cultivars can be from hardwood cuttings in October, from softwood cuttings under glass in the summer, or from suckers.S. nigra is described from a variety of woodland habitats in Europe. Helliwell et al. (1996) list S. nigra as one element of dense shrub understorey in disturbed ash/oak woodland and Sgardelis and Usher (1994) also indicate S. nigra as forming a dense understorey in a mixed deciduous and coniferous woodland in the UK. S. nigra is also described as a minor forest tree or shrub species, present in mountain and/or marginal areas of Italy (Bounous and Peano, 1990). Hetsch and Schmitt (1993) identify a distinct Humulus lupus / S. nigra community from forest margins in northern Germany. Characteristic shrub associations dominated by S. nigra are successional to ruderal forest characterized by Acer spp., bottomland species and on dry sites, Robinia pseudoacacia (Fischer, 1975). In studies in a deciduous forest in southern Poland over 5 years, the browse of Euonymus europaea, S. nigra and Crataegus oxyacantha were most preferred by deer (Bobek et al., 1979). In a study of food requirements, S. nigra is also listed by Negrutiu and Boghez (1972) as one of the most important species for roe deer.Birds feeding on the fruit are likely to be the main dispersal agents of seed, though other small mammals may also have a role. For example, increased gull colonization in offshore islands is thought to encourage the rapid dominance of S. nigra. Seed are likely to be dispersed along watercourses but their viability following immersion in water is not known. Intentional introduction is likely due to the commercial value of S. nigra and the availability as seed from mail order companies and various websites.

Silviculture Characteristics

Tolerates > drought
Tolerates > weeds
Tolerates > shade
Tolerates > frost
Ability to > regenerate rapidly
Ability to > coppice

Silviculture Practice

Seed storage > orthodox
Vegetative propagation by > cuttings
Stand establishment using > natural regeneration
Stand establishment using > planting stock

Management

Control of the tree as a weedClive (1964) indicates that the mechanical crushing of dense scrub, in which S. nigra was an element, is a viable option for scrub control. In winter cereal crops it was found that S. nigra were favoured by reduced cultivation and by direct drilling (Pollard and Cussans, 1981), suggesting that increasing cultivation was required to reduce the incidence of this weed.Growth suppression was pronounced in young S. nigra plants treated with CCC (Jasa, 1972), controlled by ammonium sulphamate (Bergmann, 1968) and considerable die-back to complete root kill with increasing doses of picloram. Low-volume applications of a new herbicide, 1:1 -ethylene-2:2 -dipyrilium dibromide gave good top-kill of various brush species, including S. nigra, though there was basal regeneration (Brian et al., 1958). S. nigra can be controlled by cutting down, burning and applying a drenching spray of 2,4-D + 2,4,5-T in diesel oil or diesel and sump oil, on and round the cut stumps in the winter. There are no records of biological control being employed on S. nigra.

Cultivation

Commercial elderberry production is concentrated in Oregon in the USA and in Denmark, Italy and Austria in Europe. In addition, wild harvested fruit is sold commercially in a number of areas particularly the Midwestern USA. In Kansas, commercial processors, particularly wineries, that have relied on wild harvested fruit are now driving the establishment of commercial plantings. While European and US production practices are similar, Europe relies on cultivars derived from S. nigra and the USA on cultivars derived from S. canadensis and S. nigra. Most of the botany, plant and fruit development are similar for these two species, however, S. nigra tends to be a single or few-trunked large shrub whereas S. canadensis can have many canes. Elderberry is adapted to a wide variety of soils but needs full sun for maximum yield and quality. Plantings are established in a wide variety of configurations but plants are generally spaced from 1.5 to 2.5 m apart in rows spaced 3–4 m apart. For best production, plants are irrigated, fertilized and weeds are controlled. Once established it takes several years to reach full production. The most fruit will be produced on 1-, 2- and 3-year-old canes. Pruning consists of removing the canes older than 3 years, along with diseased or weakened canes. Mature plants can yield 6–8 kg of fruit each. Fruit ripens in late summer and the entire cluster is clipped off. Fruit may be either stripped from the umbel immediately after harvest or the entire cluster is frozen after which the berries ‘shatter’ from the umbel very easily. 

Genetic Resources and Breeding

The chromosome number of S. nigra is 2n=28, with 2n=36 also reported. The wide variation is indicated by the range of cultivars that have been described (see Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature) and further work on the selection and multiplication of superior lines appear to have potential.

Major Cultivars

A number of S. canadensis cultivars are grown in the USA, primarily from the New York and Nova Scotia Agricultural Experiment Stations’ breeding programmes, for example ‘Adams 1’, ‘Adams 2’, ‘Johns’, ‘York’ and ‘Nova’. The origin of many of the European S. nigra plantings is less clear, although the Danish developed cultivars ‘Alleso’, ‘Korsor’ and ‘Sambu’ are recommended in parts of Europe.

Disadvantages

S. nigra has a somewhat invasive character, especially in anthropologically changed sites, such as abandoned fields or grasslands (Kollmann 1995; Decaens et al. 1997) and even on rubbish or rubble heaps. S. nigra is a component of woody scrub vegetation that may appear on previously disturbed ground that has remained uncultivated for some years. It does not withstand regular cultivation and chemical control appears effective. It is generally invasive in hedgerows, roadsides and field margins, and unmanaged grasslands. Since it is frequently found as an understorey shrub in its native range, it is a potential woodland invasive in non-native areas. However, it is also a valuable fruit-producing tree and is likely to be further introduced as a commercial species.

Links to Websites

NameURLComment
GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gatewayhttps://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.m93f6Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
Global register of Introduced and Invasive species (GRIIS)http://griis.org/Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.

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