NC State University
House with native plants and animalsGoing Native: Urban Landscaping for Wildlife with Native Plants
Home > How to Go Native > Map Existing Site and Vegetation > Native Plants Attractive to Wildlife

American Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis)

American Elderberry is a shrub that may grow 9 to 12 feet tall. The leaves are opposite, pinnately compound (5 to 11 leaflets) with a toothed margin. The bark is smooth and brown becoming shallowly furrowed and rough with age. In summer, small, white flowers are borne in dense, flat-topped clusters. The tall shrub produces a purple-black drupe that matures in late summer. Fruit, like flowers, are borne in dense, flat-topped clusters.


Butterflies and other insects are attracted to the blooms. Fruits are eaten by many species of songbirds.

Plant Type Shrub
Leaf Type Deciduous
Deer Resistance Moderate
Regions Mountain, Piedmont, Coastal Plain
Light Full Sun, Partial Sun/Shade
Soil Wet, Moist
Bloom Times Spring, Summer
Seed Times Late Summer
Wildlife Value Fleshy Fruit, Butterfly/Insect Nectar
NC Forest ServiceNC Cooperative Extension