Elderberry, or American elder, is a perennial native shrub that grows in damp areas throughout the South. In the spring, elderberry is notable for its dramatic and dense white umbel-shaped flowers. It grows in rich soil and sunny locations near streams and fencerows.
The berries, which are very attractive when they appear in the fall, are somewhat oblong in shape, though small, and are noted for their deep purple, almost black, color. The fruit is used for wine, jelly, and pies.
In the garden, Elderberry usually attains a height of 5 to 12 feet, and is rather wide-spreading. Many cultivars have been developed, but whichever is chosen, its eventual size needs to be considered.
You will need to prune Elderberry trees occasionally, or they will grow wildly. Proper pruning will help the tree produce more berries. You should remove any damaged or old branches in early spring, so the berries will be ready to come in in the fall.
Elderberry has been designated Herb of the Year for 2013 by the International Herb Society.