Elderberry - Sambucus nigra

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  • Plant form: Bare Root
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Plant Availability

In light of recent summer weather, the plant heights offered are subject to final growth and grading and may, therefore, be subject to change.

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Protecting your plants

If you want your plants to thrive without being damaged by pests such as rabbit, hare, deer, vole and mice, it is vital to consider protection when planting bare root stock. Select the ‘Plant Protection’ tab below for specific advice for this species...

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Minimum Order Value

Please note that there is a minimum order value of £10.00 + VAT, excluding delivery.

Delivery

Delivery to UK mainland is just £5.95 inc. VAT (subject to postcode surcharges), regardless of the number of items purchased.

Characteristics

Details

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Bare Root Availability       UNAVAILABLE    

The Elder is so familiar in the countryside that it’s easy to forget just what an attractive shrub it is. Its flat creamy flowerheads dominate the hedgerows in early summer and the drooping blue-black berries borne in huge bunches are a sure sign that autumn is here. It has excellent wildlife value and is an essential under-storey shrub in native woodlands all over Britain.

Site and soil

Elder is tough and hardy and will grow in most soils and situations, although it prefers soil which doesn't dry out. For optimal flowering, grow in full sun or part shade.

Height and spread

Below are the approximate stages of growth, assuming sited in suitable conditions for this species;

After 10 years: 6m x 4m
After 20 years: 6m x 4m

Leaf and bark

The large mid-green leaves are divided into 5, or more often 7 leaflets. The leaves have serrated edges and a very distinctive, strong smell. The young bark is pale grey, spotted with lenticels; as it ages the bark becomes slightly darker with deep vertical ridges.

Flower, seed and fruit

The tiny white flowers are borne in large flat clusters about 16cm across in May and June. They have a musky, honey scent. The small round blue-black berries ripen in huge clusters in September and October.

Uses

Woodland understorey and margins. In the past it was used as a fast-growing hedge as it quickly made a barrier or screen.

The flowers are used to make Elderflower cordial and Elderflower champagne and the berries to make Elderberry wine. This is a rich, strong wine, similar to port, and was once used to adulterate port when it first came to Britain.

The berries can also be used for jams, chutneys, vinegar and in baking.

All parts of the plant are used medicinally, including the pith which is a strong purgative. The whole plant has a reputation for being effective in the treatment of rheumatism and bronchial complaints. The flowers are used to make an eye and skin lotions and the leaves make a good insect repellent.

The wood is used for small items like combs, toys and mathematical instruments, and country children once made flutes, whistles and pop-guns from the hollowed-out branches.

The whole tree is surrounded by magic and superstition. It was believed that the Elder protected against evil spirits, and that if you waited beneath the tree on Mid-summer's Eve you'd see the king of the fairies and all his courtiers riding by.

Wildlife

Insects, particularly hoverflies are attracted to the flowers, and many birds, including blackbirds and thrushes feed on the berries, as do small mammals. Elder provides roosting sites and shelter for birds.

Plant Protection

The main reasons for buying protection is to protect the plants against:

  • Pests
  • Spraying
  • Strimming

Pests

When it comes to deciding what protection to choose the golden rule is to choose the product dependent on which pest you are protecting against. The below will help you in deciding what height of protection you will need.

Vole Rabbit Hare Roe Deer/Muntjac Fallow Deer
Vole, Mice
20cm
Rabbit
60cm
Hare
75cm
Roe Deer/Muntjac
1.20m
Fallow Deer
1.50m
Pest & Minimum Protection Height Protection Type
Where more than one size is listed, the wider diameter protection is recommended for taller, bushier plants.
Support Required
Taller support is recommended for use in sandier, lighter soils and wider/stronger support should be used at exposed sites.
Vole
Vole, Mice
20cm
Vole Guard*
20cm
*Not recommended for this species
None required
Pest & Minimum Protection Height Protection Type
Where more than one size is listed, the wider diameter protection is recommended for taller, bushier plants.
Support Required
Taller support is recommended for use in sandier, lighter soils and wider/stronger support should be used at exposed sites.
Sorted by price; lowest to highest
Rabbit
Rabbit
60cm
Spiral Guard*
60cm x 38mm, 60cm x 50mm
*Not recommended for this species
Bamboo Cane
90cm x 9-11lbs, 12-14lbs or 14-16lbs
Tubex Easywrap*
60cm x 50-65mm
*Not recommended for this species
Bamboo Cane
90cm x 9-11lbs, 12-14lbs or 14-16lbs
Mesh Guard with Spray Shield
60cm x 130mm
2 x Bamboo Canes
90cm x 9-11lbs, 12-14lbs or 14-16lbs
Tubex Fruitwrap*
60cm x 65-80mm
*Not recommended for this species
Bamboo Cane
90cm x 9-11lbs, 12-14lbs or 14-16lbs
Tubex Ecostart*
60cm x 57-73cm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
75cm x 25mm, 75cm x 32mm
Tubex Tree Shelter
60cm x 73-105mm
Square Sawn Tree Stake
75cm x 25mm, 75cm x 32mm
Tubex Shelterguard Mesh Tube
60cm x 80-110mm
Square Sawn Tree Stake
75cm x 25mm, 75cm x 32mm
Tubex Treeguard Mesh Tube
60cm x 80-110mm
Square Sawn Tree Stake
75cm x 25mm, 75cm x 32mm
Tubex Shrub Shelter
60cm x 130-160mm, 60cm x 144-200mm
Square Sawn Tree Stake
75cm x 25mm, 75cm x 32mm
Tubex Shrub Shelterguard Mesh Tube
60cm x 130-160mm, 60cm x 170-200mm
Square Sawn Tree Stake
75cm x 25mm, 75cm x 32mm
Tubex Treeguard Mesh Tube for Shrubs
60cm x 130-160mm, 60cm x 170-200mm
Square Sawn Tree Stake
75cm x 25mm, 75cm x 32mm
Pest & Minimum Protection Height Protection Type
Where more than one size is listed, the wider diameter protection is recommended for taller, bushier plants.
Support Required
Taller support is recommended for use in sandier, lighter soils and wider/stronger support should be used at exposed sites.
Sorted by price; lowest to highest
Hare
Hare
75cm
Tubex Easywrap*
75cm x 50-65mm
*Not recommended for this species
Bamboo Cane
90cm x 9-11lbs, 12-14lbs, 14-16lbs or 1.20m x 20-22lbs
Spiral Guard*
75cm x 50mm
*Not recommended for this species
Bamboo Cane
90cm x 9-11lbs, 12-14lbs, 14-16lbs or 1.20m x 20-22lbs
Tubex Fruitwrap*
75cm x 65-80mm
*Not recommended for this species
Bamboo Cane
90cm x 9-11lbs, 12-14lbs, 14-16lbs or 1.20m x 20-22lbs
Tubex Ecostart*
75cm x 57-73mm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
90cm x 25mm, 90cm x 32mm
Tubex Tree Shelter
75cm x 73-105mm
Square Sawn Tree Stake
90cm x 25mm, 90cm x 32mm
Tubex Combitube
75cm x 73-105mm
Square Sawn Tree Stake
90cm x 25mm, 90cm x 32mm
Tubex Shelterguard Mesh Tube
90cm x 80-110mm
Square Sawn Tree Stake
90cm x 25mm, 90cm x 32mm
Tubex Treeguard Mesh Tube
75cm x 80-110mm, 90cm x 80-110mm
Square Sawn Tree Stake
90cm x 25mm, 90cm x 32mm
Tubex Shrub Shelter
75cm x 130-160mm, 75cm x 144-200mm
Square Sawn Tree Stake
90cm x 25mm, 90cm x 32mm
Pest & Minimum Protection Height Protection Type
Where more than one size is listed, the wider diameter protection is recommended for taller, bushier plants.
Support Required
Taller support is recommended for use in sandier, lighter soils and wider/stronger support should be used at exposed sites.
Sorted by price; lowest to highest
Roe Deer/Muntjac
Roe Deer/Muntjac
1.20m
Tubex Tree Shelter*
1.20m x 73-105mm, 1.20m x 80-120mm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
1.20m x 32mm, 1.35m x 32mm
Tubex Combitube*
1.20m x 73-105mm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
1.20m x 32mm, 1.35m x 32mm
Tubex Shelterguard Mesh Tube*
1.20m x 80-110mm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
1.20m x 32mm, 1.35m x 32mm
Tubex Treeguard Mesh Tube*
1.20m x 80-110mm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
1.20m x 32mm, 1.35m x 32mm
Galvanised Mesh Tree Guard*
1.20m x 300mm
*Not recommended for this species
Machine Rounded Tree Stake
1.20m x 50mm, 1.50m x 50mm
Pest & Minimum Protection Height Protection Type
Where more than one size is listed, the wider diameter protection is recommended for taller, bushier plants.
Support Required
Taller support is recommended for use in sandier, lighter soils and wider/stronger support should be used at exposed sites.
Sorted by price; lowest to highest
Fallow DeerFallow Deer
1.50m
Tubex Tree Shelter*
1.50m x 80-120mm, 1.80m x 80-120mm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
1.50m x 32mm, 1.80m x 32mm
Tubex Combitube*
1.50m x 80-120mm, 1.80m x 80-120mm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
1.50m x 32mm, 1.80m x 32mm
Tubex Shelterguard Mesh Tube*
1.50m x 80-110mm, 1.80m x 80-110mm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
1.50m x 32mm, 1.80m x 32mm
Tubex Treeguard Mesh Tube*
1.50m x 80-110mm, 1.80m x 80-110mm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
1.50m x 32mm, 1.80m x 32mm
Galvanised Mesh Tree Guard*
1.80m x 300mm, 1.80m x 600mm
*Not recommended for this species
Machine Rounded Tree Stake
1.80m x 60mm

Spraying

Tubex tree shelters offer the benefit of not only protecting against animal damage, they also ensure that herbicides do not come into contact with the plants during spraying.

The main reason for spraying is weed control, however, there are other options available to suppress weeds, such as weed control matting.

Strimming

Young plants should be protected from damage caused when strimming. To protect plants solely for strimming, our strimmer guards are the ideal product.

Planting & Care

Planting

New hedgerows should be planted in two staggered rows 30cm apart.

We recommend a minimum of 5 plants per metre.

Aftercare

As a rough hedge or screen, Elder can be pruned in winter. If individual plants get too large, they can be hard-pruned to ground level in late winter.

Questions

Have a question about this? Let us know...