Sambucus nigra f. porphyrophylla 'Gerda' (PBR)

black elder ( syn. Sambucus Black Beauty )

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2 litre pot £17.99
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Buy Sambucus nigra f. porphyrophylla 'Gerda' (PBR) black elder ( syn. Sambucus Black Beauty ): Dramatic purple foliage

This shrub is deciduous so it will lose all its leaves in autumn, then fresh new foliage appears again each spring.

  • Position: full sun or partial shade
  • Soil: moderately fertile, humus-rich, moist, well-drained soil
  • Rate of growth: average
  • Flowering period: June
  • Hardiness: fully hardy

    This fantastic 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. For best foliage colour grow it in full sun, otherwise it can fade to a greenish-bronze.

  • 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.

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Eventual height & spread

It's a very vibrant plant


beautiful foliage I am really looking forward to it blossoming and the fruit makes yummy cordial




Excellent specimen






I pirchased this shrub last summer and it flowered


Your plants are always healthy and nicely packed.




early days


Pretty flowers but disappointing foliage. should have bought Black Lace

Busy fingers



4.5 4


Would this lovely plant grow well in the Alpes Maritimes or does it need a much richer and moister soil than I have down here in the South?


Hello there Sambucus nigra f. porphyrophylla 'Gerda' does need a fertile, humus-rich, moist, well-drained soil but unfortunately I cannot say if it will grow well outside the UK. Sorry I cannot help you more.

Hi, Is this plant evergreen?


Hello, No, this is a deciduous shrub that loses all its leaves during the winter.


would this be suitable as a screening plant in a west facing very windy exposed position?


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'

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 you


Hello, 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.


Hi, can a sambucus be planted into a tub and if so what size tub should I use? Many thanks.


Hello there 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 helps

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! Carolyn


Hello there 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 helps

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?


Hello there 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 helps


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?


Hello, 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.


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. Emma

emma freeman

Dear Helen Many thanks for list of plants I have ordered several of them. Regards

Crocus Helpdesk

Hello Emma, There are a few plants that will thrive in boggy soil - here are some of the best:- Gunnera manicata Osmunda regalis Carex elata Aurea Ligularia Astilbe Fanal Zantedeschia Sambucus Rodgersia Hostas I hope this helps. Helen Plant Doctor

emma freeman

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. Louise

Louise Gale (Intl Vendor)

Good luck with it,- I will be very pleased to hear how it goes. Best regards, Helen Plant Doctor

Crocus Helpdesk

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 Louise

Louise Gale (Intl Vendor)

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 Doctor

Crocus Helpdesk

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