The Elder is a member of the Caprifoliaceae or the Honeysuckle family (number 131 in Stace) and has 7 genera which are all woody shrubs, small trees or climbers.
Sambucus nigra can be a large, deciduous Shrub growing rapidly to 6 m (19ft) by 6 m (19ft) and often even taller in a sheltered or shady position. It can be grown anywhere but will flower and fruit best in sun; in shade, flowering will be limited. Naturally it spreads rapidly and in awkward places when the juicy fruits are eaten by birds.
The common Elder is an attractive shrub in all seasons for the wildlife garden and in farm hedges. The inflorescence is a broad, flat umbel-like corymb up to 25 cms. (10”) across. The creamy, white flowers, usually from June onwards, are sweetly fragrant, hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and followed by round to ovoid, purplish black, fruit after pollination by flies.