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Sambucus canadensis Linnaeus. Common Elderberry. Phen: Late Apr-Jul; Jul-Aug. Hab: Bottomland and riparian forests, streambanks, thickets, marshes, swamps, seeps, spring runs, mesic upland forests, pond margins, pastures, fencerows, other disturbed areas. Dist: NS west to MB, south to s. FL, TX; montane Mexico and Central America; West Indies.

ID notes: The leaflets, particularly of young shoots or stunted sprouts, are often variegated. This is one of the first woody plants to leaf out in the spring.

Origin/Endemic status: Native

Taxonomy Comments: Bolli (1994) treated this taxon as a subspecies of a very broadly defined S. nigra. He recognized six subspecies: ssp. nigra in Europe, ssp. palmensis (Link) R. Bolli in the Canary Islands, ssp. maderensis (Lowe) R. Bolli in Madeira Island, ssp. canadensis in eastern North America, Mexico, Central America, and the West Indies, ssp. cerulea (Rafinesque) R. Bolli of western North America, and ssp. peruviana (Kunth) R. Bolli of South America. We prefer to retain these taxa at species rank, particularly as Bolli stated "the geographical races, in the following defined as subspecies, turned out to be the biological units in Sambucus". Bolli further discussed three races within what is here called S. canadensis (his S. nigra ssp. canadensis), one from eastern North America, another from montane Mexico and Central America, and a third from subtropical se. North America and the West Indies; he considered these geographic races to represent "morphological and perhaps genetical" differences, and that "at present, all races are probably interconnected". This variation may be worthy of taxonomic recognition at the varietal level, and these "races" have formerly been considered to be species or varieties. If given varietal recognition, plants of most of our area represent S. canadensis var. canadensis, while evergreen (or tardily deciduous), bipinnate plants of FL, s. GA, s. AL, s. MS, s. LA, se. TX, and the West Indies represent S. canadensis var. laciniata A. Gray. The variation is clinal, and bipinnate leaves are seen (at least) as far north as coastal NC.

Synonymy: = Ar, C, FNA, GrPl, GW2, Mi, Pa, RAB, Tat, Tn, Va, W, WV, Ferguson (1966a); = Sambucus canadensis L. var. nigra – NcTx, name not published; = Sambucus nigra L. ssp. canadensis (L.) Bolli – Fl7, K1, K3, K4, NE, NY, WH3, Bolli (1994); > Sambucus canadensis L. – S; > Sambucus canadensis L. var. canadensis – F, G, Tx; > Sambucus canadensis L. var. laciniata A.Gray; > Sambucus canadensis L. var. submollis Rehder – F, G, Tx; < Sambucus nigra L. – Mex, Ok; >< Sambucus nigra L. var. nigra – Il; >< Sambucus nigra L. var. submollis – Il, Quoted; name not published; > Sambucus simpsonii Rehder ex Sarg. – S

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Wetland Indicator Status:

  • Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plain: FAC (taxonomic lump from wetland indicator species)
  • Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plain: FACW (taxonomic lump from wetland indicator species)
  • Eastern Mountains and Piedmont: FAC (taxonomic split from wetland indicator species)
  • Great Plains: FAC (taxonomic split from wetland indicator species)
  • Midwest: FAC (taxonomic split from wetland indicator species)
  • Northcentral & Northeast: FACW (taxonomic split from wetland indicator species)

Heliophily ?: 6

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image of plant© Gary P. Fleming | Original Image ⭷
image of plant© Alan Cressler: sambucus canadensis dorton knob cumberland co tn 1 by Alan Cressler source | Original Image ⭷
image of plant© J.W. Hardin | Original Image ⭷
image of plant© Bruce A. Sorrie | Original Image ⭷
image of plant© Erik Danielson source | Original Image ⭷
image of plant© Erik Danielson source | Original Image ⭷
image of plant© Erik Danielson source | Original Image ⭷
image of plant© Erik Danielson source | Original Image ⭷

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