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Variegated Black Elder

Sambucus nigra 'Aureomarginata'

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Variegated Black Elder (Sambucus nigra 'Aureomarginata') at Rice's Nursery

Sambucus nigra 'Aureomarginata'

Sambucus nigra 'Aureomarginata'

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Height: 20 feet

Spread: 20 feet

Sunlight:  full sun  partial shade 

Hardiness Zone: 5a

Other Names: Common Elder


An upright medium-sized shrub featuring dark green leaves edged in light yellow, clusters of small, creamy white flowers in spring followed by shiny black berries; quite coarse in winter; very adaptable, survives with minimal care but tends to sucker

Ornamental Features:

Variegated Black Elder features showy panicles of fragrant creamy white flowers held atop the branches in early summer. It has attractive dark green foliage edged in buttery yellow throughout the season. The serrated compound leaves are ornamentally significant and turn yellow in fall. The black fruits are held in clusters in early fall. The smooth tan bark is not particularly outstanding.

Landscape Attributes:

Variegated Black Elder is a multi-stemmed deciduous shrub with an upright spreading habit of growth. Its relatively coarse texture can be used to stand it apart from other landscape plants with finer foliage.

This is a high maintenance shrub that will require regular care and upkeep, and is best pruned in late winter once the threat of extreme cold has passed. It is a good choice for attracting birds to your yard. Gardeners should be aware of the following characteristic(s) that may warrant special consideration;

  • Suckering

Variegated Black Elder is recommended for the following landscape applications;

  • General Garden Use
  • Accent
  • Naturalizing And Woodland Gardens
  • Mass Planting
  • Hedges/Screening

Plant Characteristics:

Variegated Black Elder will grow to be about 20 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 20 feet. It tends to be a little leggy, with a typical clearance of 2 feet from the ground, and is suitable for planting under power lines. It grows at a fast rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 30 years.

This shrub does best in full sun to partial shade. It is very adaptable to both dry and moist locations, and should do just fine under average home landscape conditions. It is not particular as to soil type or pH. It is highly tolerant of urban pollution and will even thrive in inner city environments.

This is a selected variety of a species not originally from North America.

Hardiness Zone Plant Height Minimum Sunlight
Accent Massing Screening Garden Naturalizing
Flowers Fruit Foliage Color Attracts Wildlife
Ornamental Features