Monday, May 20, 2013

Elderberry going to Flower

Last year I took a course at the Mt. Cuba Center about growing our native Elderberry, Sambucus canadensis, which was very informative. They went over the folk lore, how to grow them, how to make jam/jelly out of the berries, lunch was served featuring Elderberry jam, and best of all everyone got to take home a plant. Truly I'm annoyed that I can't find such wonderful classes anywhere else in my area.

So here's the plant I took home today. And to my delight, it's going to flower on at least four stems. Now one of the things I learned is that this is a very vigorous growing shrub. They push out multiple 6' stems in a year, form that perfect V shape sought after in so many shrubs for landscaping purposes. Their only real issue is they can spread a little, mostly by new stems coming up on the lower trunk and adjacent roots, however one friend told me that their plants sucker out much farther away from the plant. But I have to say of all the plants I've seen, I've never found this plant growing in a colony or grove that such root suckering would create. Something brought up at the class were plants that look like Elderberry and there's a surprising number of plants with the same leaf structure such as Poison Sumac, Sumac Trees in general, and a few others too. Also it's not uncommon for Elderberries to reseed themselves naturally anywhere that birds perch. They also root well from cuttings which I think I'll experiment with as they only only live ~20 years or so before they peter out.