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Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Cladus: Asterids
Cladus: Campanulids
Ordo: Dipsacales

Familia: Adoxaceae
Genus: Sambucus

S. adnata – S. australasica – S. australis – S. canadensis – S. cerulea – S. chinensis – S. ebulus – S. gaudichaudiana – S. henriana – S. javanica – S. maderensis – S. nigra – S. palmensis – S. peruviana – S. racemosa – S. tigranii – S. wightiana – S. williamsii

Nothospecies: S. x strumpfii
⧼Source(s) of checklist⧽:

Hassler, M. 2018. Sambucus. World Plants: Synonymic Checklists of the Vascular Plants of the World In: Roskovh, Y., Abucay, L., Orrell, T., Nicolson, D., Bailly, N., Kirk, P., Bourgoin, T., DeWalt, R.E., Decock, W., De Wever, A., Nieukerken, E. van, Zarucchi, J. & Penev, L., eds. 2018. Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2018 Jun. 28. Reference page.


Sambucus L., Sp. Pl. 1: 269. (1753)

Lectotype species: Sambucus nigra L., Sp. Pl. 1: 269 (1753), designated by N.L. Britton & A. Brown, Ill. Fl. N.U.S. ed. 2. 3: 268 (1913), supported by Hitchcock, Prop. Brit. Bot. 142 (1929).


Phyteuma Lour., Fl. Cochinch. 1: 138. (1790) nom. illeg. hom. vide Phyteuma L., Sp. Pl. 1: 170. (1753) (Campanulaceae)
Ebulum Garcke, Fl. N. Mitt.-Deutschland, ed. 7 184. (1865)
Tripetelus Lindl., Three Expeditions into the interior of Eastern Australia 2: 14. (1838)


Linnaeus, C. 1753. Species Plantarum. Tomus I: 269. Reference page.

Additional references

Britton, N.L. & Brown, A. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British possessions: from Newfoundland to the parallel of the southern boundary of Virginia, and from the Atlantic Ocean westward to the 102d meridian. ed. 2. C. Scribner's sons, New York. Vol. 3: 268. Reference page.
Hitchcock, A.S. & Green, M.L. 1929. Standard species of Linnaean genera of Phanerogamae (1753–1754). pp. 111–195 in International Botanical Congress. Cambridge (England), 1930. Nomenclature. Proposals by British Botanists. His Majesty's Stationery Office, London. Biblioteca Digital Reference page.


Hassler, M. 2018. Sambucus. World Plants: Synonymic Checklists of the Vascular Plants of the World In: Roskovh, Y., Abucay, L., Orrell, T., Nicolson, D., Bailly, N., Kirk, P., Bourgoin, T., DeWalt, R.E., Decock, W., De Wever, A., Nieukerken, E. van, Zarucchi, J. & Penev, L., eds. 2018. Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2018 Jun. 28. Reference page.
International Plant Names Index. 2018. Sambucus. Published online. Accessed: Jun. 28 2018.
Govaerts, R. et al. 2018. Sambucus in Kew Science Plants of the World online. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2018 Jun. 28. Reference page. 2018. Sambucus. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2018 Jun. 28.
Swedish Museum of Natural History, only in Swedish
Global Biodiversity Information Facility. 2019. GBIF Backbone Taxonomy. Checklist dataset. Taxon: Sambucus. .

Vernacular names
العربية: خمان
azərbaycanca: Gəndalaş
Boarisch: Holler
беларуская: Бузіна
български: Бъз
català: Saüc
kaszëbsczi: Bes
čeština: Bez
dansk: Hyld
Deutsch: Holunder
English: Elder
Esperanto: Sambuko
español: Saúco
eesti: Leeder
euskara: Intsusa
فارسی: آقطی
suomi: Seljat
français: Sureau
Frysk: Flearen
Gaeilge: Trom
galego: Sabugueiros
Gaelg: Tramman
עברית: סמבוק
hrvatski: Bazga
hornjoserbsce: Bozanka
magyar: Bodza
հայերեն: Կտտկենի
Bahasa, Indonesia: Sangitan
Ido: Sambuko
íslenska: Yllir
italiano: Sambuco
日本語: ニワトコ属
ქართული: ანწლი
қазақша: Аюбадам
한국어: 덧나무
kurdî: Bazge
Limburgs: Heulenteul
lietuvių: Šeivamedis
latviešu: Plūškoki
кырык мары: Пивӹзӹлмӹ
Napulitano: Sammuco
Nederlands: Vlier
norsk nynorsk: Hyll
norsk: Hyll
occitan: Saüc
ирон: Фæдæгъд
polski: Bez
Runa Simi: Rayan
română: Soc
русский: Бузина
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Bazga
slovenčina: Baza
slovenščina: Bezeg
Seeltersk: Kiddeboom
svenska: Flädrar
ślůnski: Flider
Türkçe: Mürver
українська: Бузина
vèneto: Sanbugaro
West-Vlams: Vliere
walon: Sawou
中文: 接骨木属

Sambucus is a genus of flowering plants in the family Adoxaceae. The various species are commonly called elder or elderberry. The genus was formerly placed in the honeysuckle family, Caprifoliaceae, but was reclassified as Adoxaceae due to genetic and morphological comparisons to plants in the genus Adoxa.
Flowers of European black elder


The oppositely arranged leaves are pinnate with 5–9 leaflets (or, rarely, 3 or 11). Each leaf is 5–30 cm (2.0–11.8 in) long, and the leaflets have serrated margins. They bear large clusters of small white or cream-colored flowers in late spring; these are followed by clusters of small black, blue-black, or red berries (rarely yellow or white).
Structure of anthocyanins, the blue pigments in elderberries.[2]

Elderberries are rich in anthocyanidins[3] that combine to give elderberry juice an intense blue-purple coloration that turns reddish on dilution with water.[4] These pigments are used as colorants in various products,[3] and "elderberry juice color" is listed by the US FDA as allowable in certified organic food products.[3] In Japan, elderberry juice is listed as an approved "natural color additive" under the Food and Sanitation Law.[5] Fibers can be dyed with elderberry juice (using alum as a mordant)[6] to give a light "elderberry" color[clarify].

Although the cooked berries (pulp and skin) of most species of Sambucus are edible,[7][8] the uncooked berries and other parts of plants from this genus are poisonous.[9] Leaves, twigs, branches, seeds, roots, flowers, and berries of Sambucus plants produce cyanogenic glycosides, which have toxic properties.[9] Ingesting a sufficient quantity of cyanogenic glycosides from berry juice, flower tea, or beverages made from fresh leaves, branches, and fruit has been shown to cause illness, including nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and weakness.[7][9][10] In August 1983, a group of 25 people in Monterey County, California, became suddenly ill by ingesting elderberry juice pressed from fresh, uncooked Sambucus mexicana berries, leaves, and stems.[10] The density of cyanogenic glycosides is higher in tea made from flowers (or leaves) than from the berries.[9][11]

The seeds of Sambucus callicarpa are poisonous and may cause vomiting or diarrhea.[12]

The taxonomy of the genus Sambucus L., originally described by Carl Linnaeus and hence its botanical authority, has been complicated by its wide geographical distribution and morphological diversity. This has led to overdescription of the species and infraspecific taxa (subspecies, varieties or forms).[13] The name comes from the Greek word sambuce, an ancient wind instrument, about the removal of pith from the twigs to make whistles.[14]

Species recognized in this genus are:[15][16]

Sambucus adnata – Himalaya and eastern Asia
Sambucus australasica – New Guinea, eastern Australia
Sambucus australis – South America
Sambucus callicarpa – west coast of North America
Sambucus canadensis – eastern North America
Sambucus cerulea – western North America
Sambucus ebulus – central and southern Europe, northwest Africa and southwest Asia
Sambucus gaudichaudiana – south eastern Australia
Sambucus javanica – southeastern Asia
Sambucus lanceolata – Madeira Island
Sambucus latipinna – Korea, southeast Siberia
Sambucus melanocarpa – western North America
Sambucus microbotrys – southwest North America
Sambucus nigra – Europe and North America
Sambucus orbiculata – western North America
Sambucus palmensis – Canary Islands
Sambucus peruviana – Costa Rica, Panama and northwest South America
Sambucus pubens – northern North America
Sambucus racemosa – northern, central and southeastern Europe, northwest Asia, central North America
Sambucus sibirica – eastern Asia
Sambucus sieboldiana – Japan and Korea
Sambucus simpsonii – southeastern United States
Sambucus tigranii – southwest Asia
Sambucus velutina – southwestern North America
Sambucus wightiana – western Himalayas
Sambucus williamsii – northeast Asia

Elderberries, raw
Sambucus spp.

Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 305 kJ (73 kcal)
18.4 g
Dietary fiber 7 g
0.5 g
0.66 g
Vitamins Quantity
Vitamin A equiv.
30 μg
Thiamine (B1)
0.07 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.06 mg
Niacin (B3)
0.5 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
0.14 mg
Vitamin B6
0.23 mg
Folate (B9)
6 μg
Vitamin C
36 mg
Minerals Quantity
38 mg
1.6 mg
5 mg
39 mg
280 mg
0.11 mg
Other constituents Quantity
Water 79.80 g

Link to USDA Database entry
  • Units
  • μg = micrograms • mg = milligrams
  • IU = International units
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA FoodData Central

Distribution and habitat

The genus occurs in temperate to subtropical regions of the world. More widespread in the Northern Hemisphere, its Southern Hemisphere occurrence is restricted to parts of Australasia and South America. Many species are widely cultivated for their ornamental leaves, flowers, and fruit.[17]

Elder commonly grows near farms and homesteads. It is a nitrogen-dependent plant and thus is generally found near places of organic waste disposal. Elders are often grown as a hedgerow plant in Britain since they take very fast, can be bent into shape easily, and grow quite profusely, thus having gained the reputation of being 'an instant hedge'. It is not generally affected by soil type or pH level and will virtually grow anywhere sufficient sunlight is available.

In Northern California, elderberries are a food for migrating band-tailed pigeons. Elders are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including brown-tail, buff ermine, dot moth, emperor moth, engrailed moth, swallow-tailed moth and the V-pug. The crushed foliage and immature fruit have a strong fetid smell. Valley elderberry longhorn beetles in California are very often found around red or blue elderberry bushes. Females lay their eggs on the bark.[18] The pith of elder has been used by watchmakers for cleaning tools before intricate work.[19]

Traditional uses of Sambucus involved berries, seeds, leaves, and flowers or component extracts.[20] Ornamental varieties of Sambucus are grown in gardens for their showy flowers, fruits and lacy foliage which support habitat for wildlife.[21] Of the many native species, three are used as ornamentals, S. nigra, S. canadensis and S. racemosa.[22]
Dried elderberries ready for steeping

Raw elderberries are 80% water, 18% carbohydrates, and less than 1% each of protein and fat (table). In a 100-gram (3.5 oz) amount, elderberries supply 73 calories and are a rich source of vitamin C, providing 43% of the Daily Value (DV). Elderberries also have moderate contents of vitamin B6 (18% DV) and iron (12% DV), with no other nutrients in significant content.
Dietary supplement

Elderberry fruit or flowers are used as dietary supplements to prevent or provide relief from minor diseases, such as flu, colds, constipation, and other conditions, often served as a tea, extract, or in a capsule.[7] There is insufficient research to establish its effectiveness for such uses, or its safety profile.[7]
Traditional medicine

Although practitioners of traditional medicine have used elderberry over centuries,[21] there is no high-quality clinical evidence that such practices provide any benefit.[7]

The flowers of Sambucus nigra are used to produce elderflower cordial. St-Germain, a French liqueur, is made from elderflowers. Hallands Fläder, a Swedish akvavit, is flavoured with elderflowers.

Hollowed elderberry twigs have traditionally been used as spiles to tap maple trees for syrup.[23] Additionally, they have been hollowed out and used as flutes, blowguns, and syringes.[24]

The fruit of S. callicarpa is eaten by birds and mammals. It is inedible to humans when raw but can be made into wine.[12]

Elderberry twigs and fruit are employed in creating dyes for basketry. These stems are dyed a very deep black by soaking them in a wash made from the berry stems of the elderberry.[21]
In popular culture

Folklore related to elder trees is extensive and can vary according to region.[25] In some traditions, the elder tree is thought to ward off evil and give protection from witches, while other beliefs say that witches often congregate under the plant, especially when it is full of fruit.[26] If an elder tree was cut down, a spirit known as the Elder Mother would be released and take her revenge. The tree could only safely be cut while chanting a rhyme to the Elder Mother.[27]

Made from the branch of an elder tree, the Elder Wand plays a pivotal role in the final book of the Harry Potter series, which was nearly named Harry Potter and the Elder Wand before author J. K. Rowling decided on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.[28][29]

Elton John's 1973 album Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player features a song titled "Elderberry Wine".

In Monty Python and the Holy Grail, John Cleese as the French Taunter tells the knights of Camelot, "Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries."[30]

Sambucus canadensis showing the complex branching of the inflorescence

Sambucus canadensis showing the inflorescence

Elderberry cultivation in Austria


"Sambucus L". Germplasm Resource Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2005-10-13. Archived from the original on 2009-05-07. Retrieved 2009-07-23.
Johnson, M. C; Thomas, A. L; Greenlief, C. M (2015). "Impact of Frozen Storage on the Anthocyanin and Polyphenol Content of American Elderberry Fruit Juice". Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 63 (23): 5653–5659. doi:10.1021/acs.jafc.5b01702. PMC 4472577. PMID 26028422.
Colors Derived from Agricultural Products, USDA
"National Organic Program (NOP)-Proposed Amendments to the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (Processing)". Federal Register. May 15, 2007.
Processing Fruits: Science and Technology (Second ed.). CRC Press. 2004. pp. 322–324. ISBN 9781420040074. Retrieved 20 August 2018.
Burgess, Rebecca (2011). Harvesting Color: How to Find Plants and Make Natural Dyes. Artisan Books. pp. 74–75. ISBN 9781579654252. Retrieved 20 August 2018.
"European elder". National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, US National Institutes of Health. September 2016. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
McVicar, Jekka (2007). "Jekka's Complete Herb Book" p. 214–215. Raincoast Books, Vancouver. ISBN 1-55192-882-5
Senica, M; Stampar, F; Veberic, R; Mikulic-Petkovsek, M (2016). "The higher the better? Differences in phenolics and cyanogenic glycosides in Sambucus nigra leaves, flowers and berries from different altitudes". Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. 97 (8): 2623–2632. doi:10.1002/jsfa.8085. PMID 27734518.
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) (April 6, 1984). "Poisoning from Elderberry Juice—California". Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 33 (13): 173–174. PMID 6422238. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
Viapiana, A; Wesolowski, M (2017). "The Phenolic Contents and Antioxidant Activities of Infusions of Sambucus nigra L". Plant Foods for Human Nutrition. 72 (1): 82–87. doi:10.1007/s11130-016-0594-x. PMC 5325840. PMID 28084608.
Whitney, Stephen (1985). Western Forests (The Audubon Society Nature Guides). New York: Knopf. p. 423. ISBN 0-394-73127-1.
Applequist 2015.
Niering, William A.; Olmstead, Nancy C. (1985) [1979]. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers, Eastern Region. Knopf. p. 448. ISBN 0-394-50432-1.
TPL 2013.
Eriksson & Donoghue 1997.
RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 978-1-4053-3296-5.
"Asian Long-Horned Beetle Life Cycle, Development & Life Stages". 2018-04-11. Retrieved 2020-12-25.
Materials used in construction and repair of watches
Gayle Engels; Josef Brinckmann (2013). "European elder, Sambucus nigra, L." HerbalGram, American Botanical Council. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
Stevens M (2001). "Guide for common elderberry (Sambucus nigra L. ssp. Canadensis (L.)" (PDF). National Resources Conservation Service, US Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
Boland 2012.
Medve, Richard J. et al. Edible Wild Plants of Pennsylvania and Neighboring States Penn State Press, 1990, ISBN 978-0-271-00690-1, p.161
Lyle, Katie Letcher (2010) [2004]. The Complete Guide to Edible Wild Plants, Mushrooms, Fruits, and Nuts: How to Find, Identify, and Cook Them (2nd ed.). Guilford, CN: FalconGuides. p. 92. ISBN 978-1-59921-887-8. OCLC 560560606.
Diacono, Mark (15 June 2013). "In praise of the elderflower". The Telegraph. Retrieved 10 September 2017.
Jen Munson (25 October 2016). "Consider warding off witches, monsters with these spooktacular herbs this Halloween". The News-Herald, Digital First Media, Denver, CO. Retrieved 10 September 2017.
Howard, Michael. Traditional Folk Remedies (Century, 1987); pp. 134–5
Groves, Beatrice (2017). Literary Allusion in Harry Potter. Taylor & Francis. p. 50. ISBN 9781351978736. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
Brown, Jen (30 July 2007). "Confused by Potter? Author sets record straight". TODAY. Retrieved 3 November 2017.

"Monty Python and the Holy Grail - Scene 8: Why No One Likes the French".


Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain: National Institutes of Health's National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health entry for European Elder
Further reading

Applequist, W.L. (January 2015). "A brief review of recent controversies in the taxonomy and nomenclature of Sambucus nigra sensu lato". Acta Horticulturae. 1061 (1061): 25–33. doi:10.17660/ActaHortic.2015.1061.1. PMC 4859216. PMID 27158181.
Bolli, R. (1994). "Revision of the Genus Sambucus". Dissertationes Botanicae. 223.
Donoghue, Michael J.; Eriksson, Torsten; Reeves, Patrick A.; Olmstead, Richard G. (2001). "Phylogeny and phylogenetic taxonomy of Dipsacales, with special reference to Sinadoxa and Tetradoxa (Adoxaceae)" (PDF). Harvard Papers in Botany. 6 (2): 459–479.
Boland, Todd (15 September 2012). "Ornamental Elderberries". Dave's Garden. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
TPL (2013). "Sambucus". Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved 25 July 2019.

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