Common Elderberry Sambucus canadensis
Family: Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle)
Branching: Opposite

There are two native species of Elderberry, and they are both quite similar.  They share common characteristics of large, greenish red buds, stout twigs, raised warty lenticels on the bark, and a spongy pith (the twigs can often be pinched between the fingers).  Common Elderberry has flat-topped fruit clusters and white pith, while Red Elderberry has cone-shaped fruit clusters and brown pith.   Probably the most similar shrub is Lilac, which also has lenticels and very similar-looking buds.  Lilac pith is quite solid, though, and the twigs cannot be pinched like Elderberry.

End bud of Elderberry.  Often it has a double end bud.

Another view of the end bud

Lateral buds.  Notice the raised warty lenticels.

Another view of the lateral bud

A closeup of the raised lenticels

The twigs are easily crushed due to their spongy pith

Common Elderberry pith is white

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copyright © 2008 Josh Sayers
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