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Different Kinds of Elderberry

Elderberry types [species].

Elderberry types

The word elderberry is often used as a general term. Here are four popular types of elderberry you may encounter.  

  • American elderberry (Sambucus canadensis)
  • European or black elderberry (Sambucus nigra)
  • Red Elderberry (Sambucus racemona var. racemona)
  • Blue Elderberry~pictured above, (Sambucus mexicana or Sambucus nigra var. caerulea)

American elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) This species is grown mainly in United States and Canada. It is considered to be a different variety of the same genus-species of the European elderberry and current research on the American Elderberry indicates that it may actually contain more of the anthocyanin's and polyphenols thought to give elderberry its health benefits. 

Examples of older elderberry varieties and release date ‘Adams 1’, ‘Adams 2’ (1926) ‘Ezyoff’ (1934)  ‘York’ (1964) – ‘Johns’ (1954) –  ‘Kent’ (1957) ‘Nova’ (1959) ‘Scotia’ (1959) ‘Victoria’ (1957)

Examples of new elderberry varieties (more suited to Midwest) Wyldewood (2010)  Bob Gordon (2011) 


European or black elderberry (Sambucus nigra)  Is common in hedgerows in Ireland and England and cultivated for commercial use throughout Europe. This is the type that the most medical research has been done on. More of a tree than a shrub, does not adapt well to North America.  Examples ‘Allesso’ ,‘Korsor’, & Samdal’ 

Interested in purchasing dried European or black elderberry (Sambucus nigra)? We have them in the Farm Store


RED ELDERBERRY (Sambucus racemona var. racemona) Native to Europe but found in United States and Canada. Used primarily as an ornamental plant.   Examples ~ Black Lace' burgundy foliage. 'Lemon Lace' — golden yellow and green foliage. 'Lemony Lace' — golden green foliage, with red new growth. &  'Sutherland Gold' — green foliage, with bronze new growth 


Blue elderberry (S. caerulea) Is also known as the Mexican Elderberry. It is native to northwest coast of the United States, northwestern Mexico, and British Colombia. Has been know to survive in parts of TX, OK, WY, and MT.  Often used as ornamental plant. The blue berries have a white powder like coating. Eatable however medicinal qualities are unknown.  


No type of elderberry should be consumed raw or without first checking with your Doctor.