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All About the Black Lace Elderberry

There are ten major species of the genus Sambucus or elderberry. Of these species, the Black Lace Elderberry belongs to Sambucus nigra, or more specifically, the European black elderberry variety.

Each species has different varieties and crossbreeds with their own temperaments and characteristics. Keep reading to learn about this particular variety and how to grow your own at home!

Looking to buy a Black Lace elderberry bush? Check availability.

Black lace elderberry bush with pink blooms

Characteristics of the Black Lace Elderberry


The Black Lace Elderberry is a very stylish plant to have in your yard, with thin, wispy dark purple leaves that give the plant its name.

In the summer, when it blooms, the Black Lace Elderberry produces delicate, light pink flowers that contrast against the purple backdrop of the foliage. Strangely enough, the flowers smell strongly of lemons!

In the fall, the flowers will give way to small berries that are such a deep shade of purple that they look black.


Overall, elderberries are very fragrant, flavorful fruits that are tart and floral. However, some varieties are better suited for eating than others.

Of the black elderberries, European black elderberries are less flavorful and better suited for ornamental foliage.

If you really want to try a tasty elderberry, the Adams Elderberry, an American black elderberry variety, is more likely to impress.


The Black Lace Elderberry is a bit of a late bloomer. If the shrub is well pollinated and under good conditions, you should see the flowers bloom in summer, with the berries ready to be harvested in the fall.

Using and Eating Your Elderberries

Eating Them Safely

Before you explore all the great ways to use your elderberry crop, ensure you know how to consume them safely!

All varieties of elderberries are toxic in some way. On most plants, the leaves, bark, roots, and buds all contain the chemical cyanogenic glycoside, commonly known as cyanide.

The berry is also toxic on some elderberry plants, even at maturity. To make the elderberries safe to eat, you can cook them off first, which releases the toxins.

The Sambucus nigra varieties are typically deemed safe to eat raw. However, the best practice is to always cook your elderberries before eating them to avoid toxic contamination.

Hint: This also means elderberry plants can be dangerous to your pets, which is important to remember to keep your furry friends safe, too.

Elderberry Uses

After cooking your elderberries, many options exist to use up your crop!

A jar of black elderberry syrup on a wooden table with a bowl of elderberries

Making elderberry syrup is one of the most common ways to eat and preserve your berries. It’s fragrant, flavorful, and an easy way to safely eat your berries.

Jams, jellies, pies, teas, tinctures, and wines are also all popular uses for your elderberries.

Health Benefits of Black Lace Elderberries

Elderberries are high in fiber and antioxidants. Because of these great qualities, elderberries have been used in different kinds of medicine for centuries.

Fiber keeps your digestion regular, and antioxidants are believed to delay or even prevent cell damage.

One of the most popular medicinal uses is to treat colds or the flu. While the relationship between elderberries and respiratory illness isn’t proven, you can often find elderberry extract in cold and congestion relief products.

Black Lace Elderberry Care

Planting and Care

Overall, Black Lace Elderberries are very durable plants that are tolerant of many conditions. However, they love humid conditions and prefer partial to full sun, with at least five hours a day in direct sunlight.

They thrive in moist, fertile, mildly acidic soil that is well-drained with a layer of mulch on top to retain moisture.

For best results, fertilize your elderberry plants with an all-purpose fertilizer in early spring after planting before they flower and again in the summer before the berries grow.

Black Lace Elderberries will grow six to eight feet tall and wide, making them a great choice for perimeter landscaping or perennial borders and hedges.

Plant your elderberries seven feet apart to let them breathe, or a bit closer if you want a denser hedge.


The Black Lace Elderberry is a hardy plant and can spread very quickly.

To keep your plant contained and help usher in new growth, prune the thicket in late fall after all the berries have been harvested before new growth begins.

Pests and Diseases

Because elderberries contain traces of cyanide, they are resistant to deer and other larger predators.

However, their toxic defense doesn’t keep aphids and mites away. Luckily, neem oil does!

Black Lace Elderberries are also susceptible to leafspot, mildew, and verticillium wilt. Preventative measures work best in keeping your plant safe from these diseases, so make sure your plants are spread out enough from one another, that they are protected from standing water, and that you regularly prune dead and dying leaves from the plant.

Close up of a black and orange elderberry borer beetle

Pruning is also crucial in keeping away the Elderberry borer beetle. They lay their eggs at the base of the plant, and the larvae then burrow into the roots and eat the plant from the inside out.

To keep your plant safe from these destructive bugs, prune away any part of the plant that shows signs of infestation (bumpy, splintering roots and canes with holes bored through by the bugs).


Black elderberries are technically self-pollinating. However, suppose you want a colorful, fragrant shrub with a bountiful berry harvest. In that case, it’s best to cross-pollinate your Black Lace Elderberry with another of the same species, planting them within sixty feet of each other.

Black Beauty Elderberry, Instant Karma, or Laced Up varieties are all great options to pair with your Black Lace Elderberries.


The elderberry has a reputation as a tough shrub for a reason!

In warmer climates, Black Lace Elderberries can be planted in the fall and kept outdoors over the winter for earlier bloom next season.

Protect your plants with wire cages and extra layers of dry mulch to keep them safe during the colder season. To avoid fungal growth, keep the area clear of any dead leaves or debris.

Where to Buy Black Lace Elderberries

For most home growers, your best option is to buy a young plant from a nursery, though some black elderberry seeds are available to purchase as well.

Elderberries aren’t typically sold commercially, so you may as well grow your own stock!

Liven up Your Landscape With the Black Lace Elderberry

For an addition to your home garden that is both stylish and durable, the Black Lace Elderberry is sure to fit the bill!

Want to learn even more about elderberries and how to grow them? Check out the Elderberries page on our website for more information!