Sambucus racemosa L. - European red elder, Red-berried elder.

Taxonomic position.

Family Sambucaceae Batsch ex Borkh., genus Sambucus L.

Morphology and biology.

Perennial shrub or small tree 1.5 to 3 m or more tall. Stems straight, greyish-brown or grey-violet, young branches purple, with sparse lenticels. Pith of young branches white, later light brown. Stipules in a form of large fleshy glands, less often small, greenish, caducous. Leaves with 5-7 leaflets, those on flowering shoots often with 3. Leaflets elliptic, 10-12 cm long, 3-5 cm wide, narrowed into a cusp, on petiolules 3-6 mm long (uppermost leaflet on longer petiolule), bright green above, light green beneath, glabrous or pubescent beneath along midrib with sparse short thin hairs. Leaflet margins serrately dentate with large adpressed teeth up to 30 at each side. Inflorescence ovoid or conical, dense, 3-6 cm long, 2.5-5 cm wide, on thin short peduncule. Calyx teeth about 0.5 mm long, obtuse, notched at apex. Corolla whitish-yellow or greenish, 4-5 mm diameter, with oblong lobes shorter than ovary. Ovary about 2 mm long. Style subglobose, with 3 stigmas. Stamens 2 times shorter than corolla lobes, with globose anthers. Fruits about 5 mm long with wrinkled yellowish pits. Flowers in May - June, fruits in July.


General distribution: Europe. Former USSR: European part.


In forests, shrubberies, often in gardens, parks.

Use and economic value.

Medicinal: diaphoretic (flowers), cathartic (fruits and bark). Early spring honey plant. Ornamental, especially in fruit; there are ornamental forms with variegated, variously dissected leaves, with snow-white and pink flowers, with golden fruits.


Shishkin BK., ed. 1958. Flora URSS. V.23. P.431-433. (In Russian).
Cherepanov SK. 1995. Vascular plants of Russia and adjacent states (the former USSR). St.Petersburg. 990 p. (In Russian).

© T.N.Smekalova

© Photo by V.I.Dorofeev

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