Sambucus nigra ‘Black Beauty’

30 May

Sambucus nigra 'Black Beauty' (18/05/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Sambucus nigra ‘Black Beauty’ (18/05/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Position: Full sun to partial shade

Soil: Moist, well drained

Flowering period: Early Summer

Eventual Height: 4m

Eventual Spread: 4m

Hardiness: 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a

Family: Adoxaceae

Sambucus nigra ‘Black Beauty’ is a deciduous shrub with a bushy habit. Its dark purple leaves are pinnate with five leaflets which are lanceolate with serrate margins, up to 12cm long and 5cm broad. It musk scented pink, hermaphroditic flowers appear in panicles which are up to 20cm across. Its fruit are spherical, glossy and black.

The species Sambucus nigra, commonly known as Elderberry, is native to Europe (including the UK), north Africa and south west Asia. Sambucus nigra ‘Black Beauty’ is synonymous with Sambucus nigra f. porphyrophylla ‘Gerda’.

The etymological root of the binomial name Sambucus is the ancient Latin name for this plant, possibly derived from sambuca – the Latin name of a musical instrument made from the wood of the elderberry. Nigra is from the Latin meaning ‘black’.

The landscape architect may find Sambucus nigra ‘Black Beauty’  useful as a dark leaved shrub, possibly as a back foil to other plants. In order to retain a tidy appearance this shrub should be pruned hard on a regular basis.

Sambucus nigra 'Black Beauty' Leaf (18/05/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Sambucus nigra ‘Black Beauty’ Leaf (18/05/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Ecologically, Sambucus nigra ‘Black Beauty’ is attractive to pollinating insects. It berries are attractive to numerous birds and mammals.

The Royal Horticultural Society has given Sambucus nigra ‘Black Beauty’ their prestigious Award of Garden Merit in 2012.

Sambucus nigra ‘Black Beauty’ prefers moist, fertile, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil. It will tolerate chalky soils.

Sambucus nigra ‘Black Beauty’ requires little to no care. This plant can withstand a hard pruning which should bee carried out in spring.


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