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Sambucus is a genus in Moschatel family, Adoxaceae

Images of Sambucus at

Sambucus (elder or elderberry) is a genus of between 5 and 30 species of shrubs or small trees in the moschatel family, Adoxaceae.

Overview of Sambucus

• It was formerly placed in the honeysuckle family, Caprifoliaceae.
• Two of its species are herbaceous.
• The genus is native in temperate-to-subtropical regions of both the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere.
• It is more widespread in the Northern Hemisphere.
• Its Southern Hemisphere occurrence is restricted to parts of Australasia and South America.
• The leaves are pinnate with 5–9 leaflets (rarely 3 or 11).
• Each leaf is 5–30 cm (2.0–12 in) long, and the leaflets have serrated margins.
• They bear large clusters of small white or cream-colored flowers in late spring.
• These are followed by clusters of small black, blue-black, or red berries (rarely yellow or white).
• The Italian liqueur Sambuca is flavored with oil obtained from the elder-flower.
• In Germany, yoghurt desserts are made with both the berries and the flowers.
• Wines, cordials and marmalade have been produced from the berries or flowers.
• Fruit pies and relishes are produced with berries.
• In Italy (especially in Piedmont) and Germany, the umbels of the elderberry are batter coated, fried and then served as a dessert or a sweet lunch with a sugar and cinnamon topping.
• Hollowed elderberry twigs have traditionally been used as spiles to tap maple trees for syrup.
• Ornamental varieties of Sambucus are grown in gardens for their showy flowers, fruits and lacy foliage.
• Native species of elderberry are often planted by people wishing to support native butterfly and bird species.
• Black elderberry has been used in treating the flu, alleviating allergies, and boosting overall respiratory health.

Growing/Caring conditions of Sambucus

• Plant at least two different cultivators of elderberry bushes to facilitate fertilization.
• Position the bushes in an area of full sun to partial shade in well-drained soil near an outer boundary of your property.
• The branches of mature bushes become weighed down with berry clusters in late summer.
• So, put them in a location that doesn’t interfere with walkways, lawn mowing or nearby plants sunlight requirements.
• Water elderberry bushes frequently during their first year in the garden to keep the surrounding soil consistently moist.
• Once established, both American and European elderberries tolerate drought conditions.
• They may exhibit reduced flowering and berry yields unless watered during extended dry periods.
• Spread a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch in a 3- to 4-foot-wide area around Sambucus bushes.
• In addition to retaining moisture in the soil and suppressing weeds, you can easily see and remove the suckers that sprout up around the bushes’ bases.
• Prune elderberries in early spring before the leaves begin to open.
• During the first two years, allow five to seven of the bush’s multiple stems to grow freely.
• Cut any new stems that emerge down to ground level to keep the plant from becoming leggy.
• Once an elderberry bush is more than 6 to 8 feet tall, prune away up to half of its branches to maintain an attractive, symmetrical appearance.
• Prune back stems more than 3 years old to the ground to allow new stems to grow for more vigorous fruit production.
• Examine elderberry bushes routinely for signs of fungus disease.
• If twig canker appears, immediately cut the entire stem back to the ground and burn it or discard in the trash.
• Watch for any stems that die back, a problem that may be caused by elder shoot borers.
• Cut the dead stems away in the autumn and discard to prevent the pests from overwintering in the plant.
• Protect your elderberry crop from birds by covering the entire bush with lightweight netting.

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