How to Manage Pests

Pests in Gardens and Landscapes

Elderberry—Sambucus spp.
Family Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle family)

Plant Identification

Elderberries are fast-growing deciduous shrubs or trees.  Plants have dark green leaves and produce clusters of white creamy flowers in spring or early summer.  Black, blue, or red berries are produced following bloom.  Birds are attracted to fruit, but red berries can cause nausea in humans if eaten raw in large numbers.

Optimum conditions for growth

Elderberries do well in areas with full sun or light shade.  Provide moderate to regular amounts of water.  Large shrubby types can be planted as screens or windbreaks.  Keep them dense by pruning out older stems.  Trees need early training to single or multiple trunks.

Flowers of elderberry
Flowers of blue elderberry

Pests and disorders of Sambucus spp.




  • Canker diseases
    • Botryosphaeria canker and dieback
    • Diaporthe stem canker and dieback
    • Nectria canker
Environmental disorders



Flower buds and foliage of elderberry
Flower buds and leaves of blue elderberry

Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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