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Native Shrubs in Wildlife Landscaping

Good Food and Cover

Black (American) Elderberry Sambucus canadensis
Red (Scarlet) Elderberry S. pubens

Open, many stemmed, broad, rounded shrub with spreading and arching branches, to 5 to 15 feet tall.

Twigs and Bark:
Black-Stout, yellow-gray with white pith.
Red-Stout, large purple buds, with red-brown pith.

Leaves: In general, deciduous, opposite, and compound.
Black-Deciduous, opposite, compound, 5 to 11 (usually 7) leaflets, greenish fall color.
Red-Opposite, compound, 5 to 7 leaflets, downy beneath, greenish fall color.

Black-Small, creamy white, in large (6 to 10 inches wide) FLATTENED CLUSTERS June-July.
Red-Small, yellowish white, 3 to 5 inches long pyramid clusters, May.

Black-Purplish-black, in large flattened clusters that often weigh down branches, Aug.-Sept. Excellent for jellies and wine.
Red-Scarlet or red, ¼ inch diameter, in pyramid clusters, very showy late June-July.

WV Range:
Black-Common throughout WV.

Red-Mountain counties of Barbour, Fayette, Grant, Greenbrier, Hampshire, Hancock, Mercer, Mineral, Monongalia, Nicholas, Pendleton, Pocahontas, Preston , Raleigh , Randolph , Summers, Tucker, Upshur and Webster.

Natural Habitat:
Black-Rich moist soil of roadsides, fencerows, edge of forests and open swamps. Grows well on stripmined lands where other plants will not grow.
Red-Rocky, moist woods.

Wildlife Use: Fruits are eaten by mammals and birds such as deer, rabbit, squirrel, chipmunks, grouse, turkey, quail, dove, brown thrasher, rose-breasted grosbeak, chap, mockingbird and catbird. Very important summer food for wildlife.

Uses: Specimen or borders.
Light: Black (full sunlight); Red (partial shade)
Soil Moisture: Moist to slightly dry.
Soil pH: Acid to neutral.
Problems: Usually free of insects and diseases. Requires annual pruning to maintain form, to prevent root suckers and for renewal.

Compiled by: William N. Grafton, naturalist, botanist and wildlife specialist West Virginia University , Morgantown , West Virginia

Written by West Virginia Native Plant Society members and jointly published with the WV Wildlife Diversity Program.

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