Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sambucus "Black Lace"

Having a hubby who is a self-proclaimed "plant geek" makes for an interesting yard. Whether it be flower or shrub, annual or perennial, we have a lot of really wondrous and unique plants in our yard.

One of my most favorite plants is the Sambucus Black Lace or if you prefer the proper name "Sambucus Nigra Eva." It is from the elderberry family.

This is a picture of our 8 ft tall, 3 year old shrub in all it's glory:

It is a deciduous shrub that leafs out quite early in the spring. The lace edged leaves emerge dark purple almost black but the new growth on the ends of the branches is green and then turns almost to black as it grows.

The shrub blooms faithfully every year even when quite young. It blooms creamy pink blossoms in large clusters about the size of a dinner plate.

Each cluster is made up of hundreds of tiny pink blossoms with a heady fragrance.

The fragrance it emanates smells faintly of black licorice. When the shrub is in bloom the fragrance can be smelled over our entire back yard. If the sun is shining on it, you only have to step out the back door to smell it 25 feet away. In fall, the blooms drop to be replaced by red berries. Rumor has it that the berries are edible and can even be used for jam or jelly although I personally have not tried them. I prefer to leave the berries for the birds.

Troubadour pruned the shrub quite hard last fall as it had shot up to almost 10 feet. He probably cut it back to 5 feet tall and it has already grown back to 8 feet this year. It seems to be a vigorous hardy plant that is not invasive. I would not hesitate to plant several more of them either in the front or back yard, but it is so hard to find more space for plants.

If you have never seen this plant in person, I urge you to visit your local garden nursery and have a look at the beautiful foliage and breathe in the fragrance when in bloom.


"Give fools their gold, and knaves their power;
Let fortune's bubbles rise and fall;
Who sows a field, or trains a flower,
Or plants a tree, is more than all. "
-John Greenleaf Whittier, A Song of Harvest


  1. I took some photos of a flower on the Maine Coast yesterday and when taking the picture I was thinking that I wish I knew more about Horticulture. I guess I have some reading to do.

  2. very pretty plant with good looking blossoms. sounds like the perfume is wonderful.

  3. Very reassuring, as I thought mine had something wrong with it - all the new foliage is green. I didn't know if it was a reversion I should lop off or just leave it to change to black naturally. Now I know I should leave it - thanks!