As spring greening leans into summer color in Missouri’s outdoors, one native shrub is beginning to blossom this week.
The elderberry shrub (Sambucus canadensis) can grow to 5 – 12 feet tall, and in late summer, produces clusters of dark, berrylike fruits that feed dozens of bird species and other wildlife. This week, though, look for these shrubs’ showy umbels of white, fragrant flowers.
Elderberry grows well in a range of dry to moist soils, and spreads by root suckers to form colonies, making them a great plant to establish in roadside or wildlife plantings, shrub borders, raingardens, or as a natural screen in low, wet areas.
Its leaves are toxic to humans, but the flowers and fruits have medicinal qualities, and have long been used in jellies, pies, fritters, muffins, syrup, tea, and wine, and can even be pickled.
Learn more about elderberry and other Missouri-native shrubs at the Missouri Department of Conservation’s online field guide, or at GrowNative.org.
Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.