Advanced Search Map Locator View Settings
Add Current Plant To List Edit Current Plant
Show all Photos

My Plant Lists Nurseries Planting Guide Contact Calscape About Calscape
Tap map to see plants native to location
Order by Popularity Order by Common Name Order by Botanical Name
Show nursery cultivars Hide nursery cultivars
Show plants not in nurseries Hide plants not in nurseries
Grid view Text view
Blue Elderberry
Sambucus nigra ssp. caerulea

About Blue Elderberry (Sambucus nigra ssp. caerulea) Blue Elderberry, Mexican Elderberry, or Tapiro is a deciduous shrub or small tree, growing up to as tall as 30 feet. It is native from Oregon to Baja all the way to western Texas. It has cream or yellow flowers in the spring and purple berries in the fall. It's berries are one of the most important source of food for birds in California.

Blue Elderberry is tough, easy to grow, and grows very rapidly. It can grow from a 1 gallon container to a 15 foot tree in 3 years if happy. It handles a variety of different soil moisture levels once established. It can handle permanently moist soil near stream sides or seeps, and will thrive next to or in regularly irrigated areas. Once established, it also grows well in fairly dry soils, though in drier conditions it will normally go deciduous or semi-deciduous in the summer and fall, and green up in the early winter. Drought-stressed Blue Elderberry' s often end up more attractive than ones that get plenty of year round water, frequently developing interesting gnarled branches and thicker though shorter trunks over time, It likes part shade or sun, and will tolerate full shade, though in full shade it will look rangy as its branches search out for more sun.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
20 - 30 ft (6.1 - 9.1 m)

Max. Width
20 - 30 ft (6 . 1 - 9 . 1 m)



Growth Rate

Winter Deciduous

Yellow green

Flower Color
Cream, Yellow, Purple

Flowering Season
Spring, Summer

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Streambanks, slope bottoms, canyons, slightly moister places throughout the state. It occurs in conjunction with a variety of vegetation types including chaparral, sage scrub, grassland, and wetland-riparian.

Full Shade, Part Shade, Sun

Elevation ?
-221' - 10519'

Annual Precip. ?
4.7" - 153.6"

Summer Precip. ?
0.15" - 5.67"

Coldest Month ?
24.3° F - 57.2° F

Hottest Month ?
47.0° F - 80.8° F

Humidity ?
0.01 vpd - 31.90 vpd

Soil Description
Tolerates a variety of soils but prefers well-drained soils with moisture

Soil PH
6.0 - 7.0

Fast, Medium

Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 5° ; F

Wildlife Attracted
Many bird species . Elderberries are one of the most important source of food for birds in California

Landscaping Information
Water Requirement ?
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Moderately Popular

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Organic with Rocks

Accepts pruning readily .

Common uses
Deer Resistant, Bird Gardens, Butterfly Gardens, Bee Gardens

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Other Names
Botanical Names
Sambucus mexicana

Common Names
Common Elderberry, Mexican Elderberry

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

Sign in to your Calscape Account X

Once signed in, you'll be able to access any previously saved plant lists or create new ones.

Email Address

Sign In