Red Elderberry Sambucus pubens
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 spongey 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.

Winter twig and lateral buds of Red Eldberberry

The remains of the cone-shaped fruit cluster that separate this species from Common Elderberry

Branches and fruit clusters

Middle-aged bark

Older bark

The twigs are easily crushed due to their spongy pith

Red Elderberry pith is light brown

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copyright © 2008 Josh Sayers
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