Red Elderberry

  • Scientific name: Sambucus racemosa
  • Thrives in Riparian Zones
  • Blue Elderberry is more drought tolerant
  • Found on a wide variety of soils
  • Dense roots and rhizomes
  • Useful for soil stabilization and erosion control

Quantity is per pound. Example: 1 = 1 lb, 2 = 2 lbs, 3 = 3lbs, etc. This is pure seed, not a live plant.


Red Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa) thrives in Riparian Zones, on north aspects and transition zones. It is a large deciduous shrub or small tree of the Honeysuckle family that grows 10-20 ft tall with a broad arching form. In the Great Basin province it generally occurs at higher elevations (up to 9,500′) than Blue Elderberry. It can, however, inhabits streambanks, ravines, swamps, moist forest clearings and higher ground near wetlands from sea level to 9500 ft in elevation. It is shade tolerant but prefers a sunny exposure. It is found on a wide variety of soils but favors deeper, loamy sands and silts and nutrient rich sites with good drainage, ample moisture and a pH of 5.0 to 8.0. It is widespread throughout its range and is occasionally dominant or co-dominant in moist areas.

The dense roots and rhizomes of red elderberry, Sambucus racemosa make it useful for soil stabilization and erosion control on moist sites including streambanks. It provides fair to good food and cover for birds plus small and large mammals. Hummingbirds collect nectar from the flowers. The fruit is high in ascorbic acid. Stems, bark, leaves and roots contain cyanide-producing toxins but berries may be consumed as jelly or wine after cooking. This versatile plant can also be used to make dye, insecticide, medicine, and musical instruments. The colorful fruit attracts birds and several cultivars have been developed for ornamental applications.

***Click on the “Quick Plant Facts” tab above for more information.

(Sambucus racemosa)

Red Elderberry NRCS Plant Fact Sheet

PDF version of NRCS Plant Guide & Fact Sheet

Prepared By:Pete Gonzalves and Dale Darris. USDA NRCS Plant Materials Center, Corvallis, Oregon.
Species Coordinator: Pete Gonzalves. USDA NRCS
Plant Materials Center, Corvallis, Oreg

Download PDF

Helpful Links

Additional information about this product can be found on the academic websites linked below.


Many plants have more than one common and scientific name. We've listed a few of them below.

  • Red Elderberry
  • Sambucus racemosa

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We've been in the seed business since 1974.

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Quick Plant Facts
Common Name:

Scarlet Elder, Stinking Elderberry

Scientific Name:



Plant Type:

pH Tolerance:

Seeds per Pound:

Growth Height:

Min. Precipitation

18 Inches Minimum

Best Time to Sow:

Max Sowing Depth:

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Sun & Shade Tolerance:

Part Shade, Full Sun

Elevation of Occurance:

Zone Map


Hardiness Zones:

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