[NAFEX] Canadensis vs. Nigra Elderberry

Jim Fruth jfruth at tds.net
Fri May 25 09:21:34 EDT 2007

    To tell the truth, when I was buying elderberry plants, I had never 
heard of names such as Samdal, York, etc. as Elderberry varieties.  I may 
have some of these varieties and don't know it.
    As for a comparison of the two, there is not a lot of significant 
difference.  They taste identical.  Canadensis grows 6' to 7' tall whereas 
Nigra grows  8' to 12' tall.  Canadensis is a rounded bush whereas Nigra 
tends to be more condensed.  Canadensis suckers more, initially, but Nigra 
tries to catch up after a few years.
    Oddly, Nigra is hardier (I would have thought Canadensis to be hardier). 
I had a Winter with no snow and both varieties suffered cane damage.  I'll 
get more fruit from Nigra this year because its canes sent out adventitious 
buds to replace damaged buds whereas Canadensis is suckering more instead of 
repairing its canes.  Neither variety suffers from disease or insects.  The 
"book" says that one mature elderberry bush will produce 25 lbs. of fruit 
but failed to say how many years comprises "maturity."  I've been growing 
elderberry for, I'm guessing, 6 - 7 years now and am getting between 5 and 
10 lbs. per bush.

    Sunlight requirement:  Nigra needs full sun to do well and Canadensis 
performs well in shade or filtered sunlight.  We (Brambleberry Farm) are 
getting more elderberry fruit than we can use (Elderberry Jelly is not a 
good seller - Minnesotans don't know what it is) so I'm eradicating  most of 
the Nigra.  I'll keep Canadensis because it thrives in shade whereas little 
else will.

Jim Fruth
Brambleberry Farm
Pequot Lakes, MN  56472
For jams, jellies & syrups:
(218)568-8483 [Store]
(218)831-7018 [My Cell]

I guess I'm curious as to the differences of Canadensis such as York and 
Nova, versus Nigra; Samdal particularly. Most of these berries will wind up 
in wine. As it is now, I make a decent wine with apple cider and dried 
Elderberries (Nigra). This will be selling on my farm in a few years. Also, 
the buzz is Elder will be bumping out Echinacea as the new cold remedy. 
Wouldn't hurt to have a few hundred plants in if this happens.
    Propagation of these things, from what one website shows, is hardly more 
than jamming a softwood cutting into a pot of dirt. Root cuttings also are 
an easy way to multiply them. It would be splendid to hear from someone who 
has grown both, and could provide a brief comparison between the two.

Thank you.

Richard Murphy
z4 Maine  z6 MA

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