Sambucus nigra f. porphyrophylla 'Gerda' (PBR)
black elder (syn. Black Beauty)
- Position: full sun or partial shade
- Soil: moderately fertile, humus-rich, moist, well-drained soil
- Rate of Growth: average
- Flowering period: June
- Flowers: pale pink
- Other features: purple black autumn fruits are attractive to birds
- Hardiness: fully hardy
This fantastic new variety of elder has intense, black burgundy foliage and sweet, lemon scented, pale pink flowers in early summer, opening from dark red buds. Darker than other varieties it makes an excellent ornamental plant for a site in sun or partial shade. As an added bonus the purple black autumn fruits are highly attractive to songbirds.
- Garden care: To achieve the best foliage effect cut back to ground level each year in early spring and apply a generous 5-7cm (2-3in) mulch of well-rotted garden compost or manure around the base of the plant.
Do you want to ask a question about this?If so, click on the button and fill in the box below. We will post the question on the website, together with your alias (bunnykins, digger1, plantdotty etc etc) and where you are from (Sunningdale/Glasgow etc). We'll also post the answer to your question!
Q:Hi, Is this plant evergreen?Asked on 16/5/2015 by squealy-r from york
No, this is a deciduous shrub that loses all its leaves during the winter.Answered on 21/5/2015 by Helen from crocus
Q:would this be suitable as a screening plant in a west facing very windy exposed position?Asked on 27/3/2015 by Julie from South West France
A:Elders are generally pretty tough, but if it is really blowing a gale, then an even tougher option would be a type of Berberis, such as B. thunbergii f. atropurpurea 'Harlequin'
http://www.crocus.co.uk/plants/_/berberis-thunbergii-f-atropurpurea-harlequin/classid.314/Answered on 2/4/2015 by Anonymous from crocus
Q:Hi, I don't have the space for this to grow to 5m. Will pruning hard every year in early spring restrict its mature height and spread?
Also if it is left to grow without pruning does it become more tree like in habit like a Japanese maple?
Thank youAsked on 6/27/2014 by In-essex-perienced from Essex
If you cut this shrub back each year, then it is possible to keep it more compact, but if you leave it un-pruned it does get big. I would not say they develop a tree-like habit though as they are multi-stemmed.Answered on 6/30/2014 by helen from crocus
Q:Hi, can a sambucus be planted into a tub and if so what size tub should I use?
Many thanks.Asked on 4/19/2014 by Mummygee from Bristol
Most plants can be grown in pots as long as they are planted in large enough pots, are well watered, and fed during the growing season. However Sambucus can grow to 3m x 3m eventually and need a moist, well-drained soil, so ideally it would be better planted in the ground, but if you are not able to do this then maybe have a try but keep it welll watered.
Hope this helpsAnswered on 4/22/2014 by Anonymous from crocus
Q:Hello, I believe I have a Sambucus Black Beauty which has grown a bit too big, although it's absolutely beautiful. I need to really prune it back but I'm nervous about damaging it. It's obviously a fully mature one as it's about 12' tall. Any advice would be much appreciated! CarolynAsked on 10/2/2013 by CarolynP from Leeds
Yes you can cut your Sambucus right back in the late winter to early spring. Often this is recommended if you want to have better foliage, but by doing this it will probably be at the expense of the flowers. Hope this helpsAnswered on 10/3/2013 by Anonymous from Crocus
Q:My Sambucus nigra is planted underneath a flowering cherry tree. The canopy is reduced after the tree has flowered each year. I have cut down the Sambucus to ground level in the Spring. The plant is in it's 4th season and hasn't flowered since it's first season. All that I have is rapid untidy growth. The site is south facing and well drained. Am I onto a loser here or is there something I can do to make it flower?Asked on 8/6/2013 by landgirl from North Yorkshire
Cutting back the Sambucus in the spring to ground level is right if you want a good foliage display, but doing this will be at the expense of the flowers. Alternatively to get flowers and berries cut out one-stem-in-three each year starting with the oldest.
Hope this helpsAnswered on 8/7/2013 by Georgina from Crocus
Q:I bought one a couple of years ago - last summer it started off well but then suddenly (within a very short space of time) every single leaf dried up and fell off. There was also evidence of brownish mottling on the leaves (originally I thought bugs had been chewing on the underside of the leaves!). If it's relevant, last summer was jolly wet.
Now it's spring again, the plant made very small shoots and I hoped it was going to recover - these shoots have been very slow to mature and a close inspection doesn't bode well.
The shrub is located in a pot on a South facing garden in the West of England - it's one of my favourites, but I don't know what went wrong or whether to bother getting a new one. I'd hate to loose another.
I thought these were supposed to be pretty tough plants. Any idea what might have gone wrong?Asked on 4/24/2013 by esslw from West of England
These plants are generally quite tough, but they are prone to a soil-borne fungal disease called Verticillium Wilt. I'm afraid there is no cure for this, so if you think this might be the cause, then you should remove the plant with as much of the rootball and surrounding soil as possible. You should also take care not to spread this soil to other areas of the garden. Once the plant is removed, you can then re-plant with something that is resistant to this disease. This includes all the conifers and grasses, as well as Cercidiphyllum, Crataegus, Gleditsia, Betula, Eucalyptus, Liquidamber, Morus and Salix spp.Answered on 4/25/2013 by Helen from Crocus
Q:Plants for boggy area?
Dear Crocus I have an area in my woodland that is really, really, boggy, can you advice on what plants would be suitable. Many thanks. EmmaAsked on 4/13/2010 by emma freeman
A:Dear Helen Many thanks for list of plants I have ordered several of them. RegardsAnswered on 4/13/2010 by Crocus Helpdesk
A:Hello Emma, There are a few plants that will thrive in boggy soil - here are some of the best:- Gunnera manicata http://www.crocus.co.uk/plants/_/perennials/gunnera-manicata-/classid.2880/ Osmunda regalis http://www.crocus.co.uk/plants/_/ferns/classid.1834/ Carex elata Aurea http://www.crocus.co.uk/plants/_/grasses/carex-elata-aurea/classid.77799/ Ligularia http://www.crocus.co.uk/search/_/search.ligularia/ Astilbe Fanal http://www.crocus.co.uk/plants/_/perennials/astilbe-fanal-%C3%97-arendsii/classid.2579/ Zantedeschia http://www.crocus.co.uk/search/_/search.zantedeschia/ Sambucus http://www.crocus.co.uk/search/_/search.sambucus/ Rodgersia http://www.crocus.co.uk/search/_/search.rodgersia/ Hostas http://www.crocus.co.uk/search/_/search.hosta/ I hope this helps. Helen Plant DoctorAnswered on 4/14/2010 by emma freeman
Q:Sambucus Berry Advice
Hi There, I have a Sambucus nigra f. porphyrophylla 'Gerda' - black elder (syn. Black Beauty) that I purchased from you some time ago. This year it's produced a lot of berries, do you know if these are edible? I'm hoping to make some jam out of them. Thanks in advance. LouiseAsked on 9/21/2009 by Louise Gale (Intl Vendor)
A:Good luck with it,- I will be very pleased to hear how it goes. Best regards, Helen Plant DoctorAnswered on 9/22/2009 by Crocus Helpdesk
A:Hi Helen (a.k.a Plant Doctor) I've done some research online, seems it's good to make jam and wine out of, so I'm going to give the jam a go. I'll let you know what it's like. :-) Thanks LouiseAnswered on 9/22/2009 by Louise Gale (Intl Vendor)
A:Hello Louise, I am not an expert but it was my understanding that all
the Sambucus berries are edible once they have been cooked, but I would
be wary about eating them from from cultivated varieties such as yours. I'm sorry not to be more help. Helen Plant DoctorAnswered on 9/22/2009 by Crocus Helpdesk
Q:Sambucus nigra pruning,- will it effect the flowers?
Hello Crocus team, I have a question about Sambucus nigra. I notice that you recommend cutting it to ground level in the Spring for the best foliage effect. If this is done, does it still flower? Many thanks. AnneAsked on 8/31/2009 by Anne Brambleby
A:Hello Ann, This hard pruning is used if you want your Sambucus to have better foliage, but it is done at the expense of the flowers. You may get some, but you will get more if it is left un-pruned. I hope this helps. Helen Plant DoctorAnswered on 9/1/2009 by Crocus Helpdesk
The garden is at its most dormant right now, so it’s a good time to catch up on any pruning missed or forgotten since the autumn. If the weather isn’t favourable, you can leave it for a week or two, but make sure all winter pruning is completed before theRead full article
My gardening resolution this year is to keep on top of my pruning and that means getting out into the garden with my secateurs every month. The garden is at its most dormant right now, so it’s a good time to catch up on any pruning missed or forgotten sinRead full article
Certain shrubs slot into the border with ease, partly because their flowers resemble herbaceous perennials. The elders (Sambucus) may not sound exciting, but they shouldn’t be confused with our roadside native. There are dark-leaved forms with finely cutRead full article