Red Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa var. pubens)

Plantae>Magnoliophyta>Magnoliopsida>Dipsacales>Caprifoliaceae>Sambucus racemosa L. var. pubens (Michaux) Koehne

Red Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa)

In North Carolina, Red Elderberry is an uncommon shrub found only at high elevations in the Mountains.

Haywood Co., NC 5/9/08.

Red Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa)

Similar to the Common Elderberry of lower elevations, the inflorescence is not flat-topped, longer than broad and slightly pinkish.

Haywood Co., NC 5/9/08.

Red Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa)

The leaves are extremely malodorous when crushed, smelling like a cross between Skunk Cabbage and Ailanthus.

Haywood Co., NC 5/9/08.

Red Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa)

Unopened flowers, on the right, are pink.

Haywood Co., NC 5/9/08.

Red Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa) flowers

Flower detail.

Haywood Co., NC 5/9/08.

Red Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa) bark

The bark is a light tan with round lenticels.

Haywood Co., NC 5/9/08.

Red Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa) bark

Haywood Co., NC 5/9/08.

Red Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa)

Similar to the Common Elderberry vegetatively, Red Elderberry is easy to identify by its bright red fruits.

When not in fruit, it can also be identified by the brown pith (white in Common Elderberry) and the fine hairs on the leaves and twigs (Common Elderberry is glabrous except on leaf veins). The alternate leaves have 5-7 leaflets.

Mt. Hood, Clackamas Co., OR 8/8/06.

Red Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa)

The inflorescence is racemose, longer than broad, while that of Common Elderberry is broader than long. Compare with American Mountain-Ash, which is larger and has alternate leaves.

Mt. Hood, Clackamas Co., OR 8/8/06.

Red Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa)

Fruit detail.

The USDA PLANTS database merges var. pubens into the European Sambucus racemosa var. racemosa.

Mt. Hood, Clackamas Co., OR 8/8/06.

More information:
Poisonous Plants of NC
USDA PLANTS Database
Virginia Tech Dendrology

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Revised 5/20/08 cwcook@duke.edu

All photographs and text ©2008 by Will Cook unless otherwise indicated.