Sambucus Racemosa or Red Elder
The generic name was used by the Romans and is derived from the Greek word sambyx, meaning red. The genus contains some 20 species distributed throughout the temperate and tropical regions of both hemispheres. They are deciduous shrubs with odd-pinnate leaves. Theare small, white or greenish, and borne in terminal compound cymes or panicles.
Red elder grows to a height of 4m (13 ft). The leaves are composed of five to seven sharply serrated leaflets and the yellow flowers are borne in terminal racemes in April, at the same time as the leaves open. The berries turn a magnificent red in autumn. Known varieties include flavescens, with yellow berries; plumoso-aurea with yellow, partly divided leaves; plumosa, with laciniate leaves incised halfway, and tenuifolia, with deeply incised laciniate leaves.
Elders are propagated by means of seeds sown as soon as they are ripe or by softwood and sometimes hardwood cuttings. They have no special requirements as regards location, but need a moderately heavy (loamy-sandy)which is sufficiently moist and grow best in humusy soil. Elders tolerate city conditions and are generally used to fill in odd spaces or in underplantings, edgings and to mask unsightly spots. The red elder is most striking in early spring when in flower, and in the autumn with its bright red berries.