What are the different kinds of elderberry?

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There are many different varieties of elderberry bushes, but I’ll focus here on the most common. The European Elder, or Sambucus nigra (also called Black Elder or Common Elder), is found throughout warmer parts of Europe and North America. The berries are black to dark blue, and it’s the type of elderberry most frequently used in recipes and retail extracts and syrups. The American Elder, or Sambucus canadensis (also called Sweet Elder), is also used in recipes and said to be slightly sweeter than the Sambucus nigra variety. It’s found in many climates, including most of North America east of the Rocky Mountains. Depending on who you ask, the canadensis is technically a sub-set of the nigra variety, but nurseries tend to list them as a separate species, so best to think of it as its own species for the purposes of choosing which types to plant together. The red-berried elder, or Sambucus racemosa, grows throughout the cooler parts of North America, but the berries, when ripe, are a ... more
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