Cut-leaved Elderberry Sambucus nigra f. laciniata

☠ Toxic to humans
🐾 Toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Edible
‍🌱 Easy-care
cut-leaved elder


The plant commonly known as cut-leaved elder is a variety with distinctive foliage. Its leaves are finely divided and deeply cut, giving them a lacy appearance that is quite different from the typical elder you might be familiar with. The leaves are typically a rich green color, providing a lush backdrop for the plant's other features. In terms of flowers, cut-leaved elder produces large clusters of tiny, creamy-white blooms that come together to form an umbrella-like shape known as a corymb. These fragrant flowers are a striking feature and can attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies to the garden. Following the flowering period, the plant bears fruit. These fruits are small berries that typically turn a deep purple or black when ripe. They are popular with birds and can be used to make wines, jams, and other treats, but they should not be consumed raw or uncooked due to their potential toxicity. Overall, the cut-leaved elder's unique leaf shape and its beautiful flowers and berries make it a striking ornamental plant for gardens, where it can serve as a focal point or a backdrop for other plants.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Cut-leaved Elder, Fern-leaved Elder, Laciniate Elder

    • Common names

      Sambucus nigra f. laciniata.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Elderberry, specifically the Sambucus nigra f. laciniata variety, is known to have toxic components, particularly in its leaves, stems, seeds, and unripe fruits. The toxicity comes from cyanogenic glycosides, which can release cyanide when digested. If ingested in significant amounts, these parts of the plant may cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, and headache. Severe poisoning can lead to more serious complications like respiratory failure or even coma due to the cyanide's ability to inhibit the body's ability to use oxygen effectively.

    • To pets

      Elderberry can also be toxic to pets, causing similar symptoms as in humans. The plant contains cyanogenic glycosides, which can be harmful if parts like the leaves, stems, or seeds are ingested. Symptoms in pets can include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, weakness, and seizures. In severe cases, ingestion may lead to respiratory failure or other life-threatening conditions due to cyanide's impact on oxygen utilization in cells. Pet owners should take precaution to ensure their animals do not consume any part of the elderberry plant.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      6 feet (1.8 meters)

    • Spread

      6 feet (1.8 meters)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Aesthetic Appeal - Sambucus nigra f. laciniata, commonly known as cut leaf elder, adds ornamental value to gardens with its finely dissected foliage and attractive form.
    • Habitat for Wildlife - The plant provides food in the form of berries and nectar for various birds, bees, and other pollinators, enhancing biodiversity.
    • Edible Fruits - The berries can be used in jams, jellies, and wines, though they must be cooked to eliminate toxic compounds.
    • Shade and Shelter - Its bushy nature offers shade and can be used as a windbreak or to create natural garden partitions.
    • Low Maintenance - Cut leaf elder is relatively easy to grow and does not require extensive care once established in the right conditions.
    • Drought Resistance - Once established, it can tolerate periods of drought, making it suitable for xeriscaping in certain regions.
    • Fall Interest - In autumn, the foliage can turn to attractive shades, adding seasonal interest to the landscape.
    • Fast Growth - It is a fast-growing plant that can quickly fill in desired areas, making it useful for landscaping projects that need rapid growth.
    • Naturalization - This elder cultivar can be used in naturalized garden settings, where it can propagate and spread over time.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    • Immune System Support: Elderberry (the common name for Sambucus nigra) extracts are known for their immunostimulant effects.
    • Antiviral: The plant has been traditionally used for its antiviral properties, especially against influenza and the common cold.
    • Anti-Inflammatory: Elderberry exhibits anti-inflammatory effects, which could be beneficial in reducing symptoms of sinusitis and other inflammatory conditions.
    • Antioxidant: It contains high levels of flavonoids and other compounds with antioxidant properties that help protect cells from damage.
    • Diuretic: Elderberry has diuretic effects, potentially aiding in the removal of excess fluids from the body.
    • Expectorant: It is sometimes used to help alleviate congestion and promote the clearing of mucus from the airways.
    • Antibacterial: Certain components in elderberry have shown antibacterial effects in vitro.
    • Laxative: Elderberry may also have a mild laxative effect for some individuals.
    Please note that while some studies support these uses, more research is needed to confirm the efficacy and safety of elderberry for medicinal purposes. Always consult with a healthcare provider before using any herbal remedies.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Sambucus nigra f. laciniata, commonly known as Cut-leaved Elder, can be used for landscaping purposes due to its deeply dissected foliage, which provides an aesthetic contrast in garden designs.
    • The flowers of the Cut-leaved Elder can be dipped in a light batter and fried to make elderflower fritters, a unique and fragrant dessert or snack.
    • The dark purple berries are sometimes used as a natural dye for fabrics, giving them a soft violet hue.
    • In some regions, the hollow stems of the Cut-leaved Elder have been traditionally used to make simple musical instruments such as flutes and whistles.
    • Wood from the Cut-leaved Elder is used in the production of small wooden items such as pegs, skewers, and combs due to its fine-grain texture.
    • The plant is occasionally employed in the art of bonsai, where its dramatic leaf structure and rapid growth can be shaped into miniature tree forms.
    • Fishermen have sometimes used the twigs of Cut-leaved Elder as a natural insect repellent by placing them around their fishing areas to deter flies and other insects.
    • Cut-leaved Elder branches can be used in basket weaving to create intricate and durable handmade baskets.
    • The elderberries can be fermented to produce a home-made wine that offers a distinctive flavor, separate from traditional grape wines.
    • The blossoms are occasionally used as an ingredient in craft distilleries to add nuanced floral notes to artisanal spirits and liqueurs.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Black Lace Elderberry is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Black Lace Elderberry is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Protection - Sambucus nigra, commonly known as elder or black elder, has been historically regarded as a protective plant. Folklore suggests that planting an elder near one's home can ward off evil spirits.
    • Healing - The elder tree has been linked with health and wellness because many parts of the plant are used in traditional medicine to treat various ailments.
    • Transformation - Due to its strong presence in folklore and its ability to regenerate quickly when cut back, the elder is often associated with transformation and renewal.
    • Death - In some mythologies, the elder is thought to be linked with the Otherworld and is sometimes associated with death due to the belief that it could be used to communicate with spirits.
    • Wisdom - Elder trees are often seen as symbols of wisdom, with the idea that an elder tree's expansive lifespan is representative of knowledge and experience passed through the ages.

Every 1-2 weeks
500 - 2500 Lux
Every 2-3 years
Spring-Early Summer
As needed
  • water dropWater

    Cut-leaf Elderberry plants should be kept consistently moist but not waterlogged. During the growing season, provide deep waterings once a week, ensuring you wet the soil to a depth of 2 inches. Avoid shallow sprinklings as they don't reach the deeper roots and may promote shallow root development. During periods of extreme heat or drought, increase watering frequency to twice a week, applying approximately 2 gallons per plant each time. In winter, reduce watering to every other week, or less if the weather is particularly wet, ensuring the roots do not sit in waterlogged soil which could cause root rot.

  • sunLight

    Cut-leaf Elderberry thrives in full sun but can also tolerate partial shade. The ideal spot provides at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. If grown in too much shade, the plant might not produce as many flowers and fruits, and its growth could be less vigorous.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Cut-leaf Elderberry does well in a wide range of temperatures but prefers a temperate climate. The plant can survive temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit but grows best in conditions between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Extreme heat above 95 degrees Fahrenheit can stress the plant, so consider providing shade during the hottest parts of the day in very warm climates.

  • scissorsPruning

    Prune Cut-leaf Elderberry to maintain its shape and encourage new growth, which can lead to more flowers and fruits. The best time to prune is in late winter or early spring before new growth starts. Remove any dead, damaged, or diseased branches, and thin out crowded areas to improve air circulation. Prune up to one-third of the oldest stems to ground level to rejuvenate the plant.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Cut-leaf elder (Sambucus nigra f. laciniata) thrives in a rich, well-draining soil mix with a pH between 5.5 to 6.5. A good soil recipe includes garden soil, compost, and a bit of sand or perlite to improve drainage.

  • plantRepotting

    The cut-leaf elder (Sambucus nigra f. laciniata) doesn't need frequent repotting and can be done every 2-3 years or when it outgrows its current pot.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Cut-leaf elder (Sambucus nigra f. laciniata) is adaptable to a wide range of humidity levels but prefers average to high humidity conditions for optimal growth.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Place in bright, indirect light and keep soil moist.

    • Outdoor

      Plant in well-draining soil, partial to full sun.

    • Hardiness zone

      5-7 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Sambucus nigra f. laciniata, commonly known as Cut-Leaved Elder, begins its life cycle with seed germination, which is typically prompted by the warmth and moisture of spring. The seed develops into a seedling, with the primary root growing downward and the shoot pushing above the soil surface. Once established, the seedling grows into a vegetative juvenile plant with distinctive, finely cut foliage. As the plant matures, it enters the reproductive phase, characterized by the formation of clusters of tiny, cream-colored flowers during late spring to early summer. After pollination, these flowers develop into small, purplish-black berries by late summer or early autumn, which are then dispersed by birds or gravity, facilitating the spread of the species. Finally, the plant enters a period of dormancy during the winter months, conserving energy until the cycle recommences with the next growing season.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring-Early Summer

    • The plant Sambucus nigra f. laciniata, commonly known as Cutleaf Elderberry, is best propagated through softwood cuttings taken in late spring to early summer when the plant's growth is most vigorous. To propagate through this method, a cutting of about 6 inches (15 centimeters) from a healthy, disease-free stem is taken, including several leaves. The bottom leaves are removed, and the cut end is dipped into a rooting hormone to facilitate root development. The treated cutting is then placed into a well-draining soil mix, ensuring at least two nodes are buried where the leaves were removed. The soil should be kept consistently moist, but not waterlogged, and the cutting should be placed in indirect light while roots develop. Within a few weeks, the cutting should begin to develop roots, and eventually, it can be transplanted to a more permanent location.