Most people are not even aware that they have a common elder in their garden. Common elders can be found virtually anywhere there is an open space of soil, and they will thrive if given the right conditions.

In this article, we’re going to discuss what the common elder is, how it grows and spreads, and what you need to do to get rid of it once and for all.

Common Elder, or Sambucus nigra, is a shrub that can grow up to 10 feet tall and have dark-purple berries. The plant is an aggressive competitor for light, water, nutrients, and space. If left unchecked, it will create dense thickets of woody stems that crowd out other vegetation.

This blog post will provide an in-depth guide on what Common Elder are, how they grow, and how to eradicate them from your garden.

Quick Facts

Common names: Elderflower Tree, Arn Tree, Black Elder, Boon Tree, Boor Tree, Bore Tree, Bour Tree, Elderberry, European Elder, Pipe Tree, Elder, Bourtree, Creeping Eider, Eldererwort
Scientific name: Sambucus nigra
Family: Viburnaceae
Origin: native
Flowering season: July to September
Habitat: alongside borders, forest edges, near roadsides, streambanks, riverbanks, footpaths and railroad tracks, or other places where water tends to collect after heavy rains.

Common Elder Identification

Common elder is typically found in areas with rich, wet soil. Common Elder is most often found growing near wooded areas with moist soil but it can also thrive in open spaces where drainage from rain runoff creates wet conditions.

Common Elder is commonly found on land that has been uncultivated for some years but can be found in residential gardens.

Common Elder is a very large shrub or small tree that reaches heights up to 14 feet tall. The leaves have serrated edges with white flowers growing at the end of each branch in clusters.

The most obvious sign of a common elder infestation is the yellow flowers that bloom each spring and summer.

Common elder is so invasive it can grow beyond that of a shrub to becoming more like a tree

What does Common Elder look like?

Characteristics that make up the Common Elder leaf, stem, root and flower are detailed below.

Common Elder is not always easy to identify, as it shares many characteristics with other plants. It grows from a single stem and can grow up to 12 inches in height.

Its oblong fruit clusters hang down under their heavyweight when ripe; they resemble grapes but have small spines at their tips instead of seeds.

Common elder is a perennial weed that can grow up to six feet tall. The plant has long, slender stems and leaves that are rough or hairy in texture with serrated edges.

It blooms from July through September producing clusters of small yellowish-white flowers growing on spikes at the end of branches.

The long elongated leaves of the common elder weed
The long elongated leaves of the common elder weed

Leaves: Common elder leaves are lance-shaped or elliptical in shape.

The leaves are typically between one and two inches long with a pointed tip, which is why they’re also called “Lamb’s tongue.”

The leaves are green on top and silver-greyish underneath, which makes them hard to spot against the botanical litter common in parks or along pathways.

The underside of the leaf has very fine hair running along with it, whereas its upper side lacks any hairs at all.

This can make identifying common elder against other plants like lamb’s ear tricky because the only way to tell them apart based on looks alone is that common elder has teeth while lamb’s ear does not.

Stem:  It has long rod-like stems topped by clusters of oval dark green leaves that are asymmetrical and coarsely toothed.

Stems grow quickly but not as fast as bamboo; there will often be yellowing between leaf joints where they come off the stem.

Roots: The main reason why it has become so pervasive is because of its ability to grow back quickly from small root fragments left behind after being cut down or pulled up.

It also spreads by taking advantage of disturbed soil where other plants have been removed allowing space for new growth.

The large clumping of white flowers belonging to the common elder weed
The large clumping of white flowers belonging to the common elder weed

Flowers: Flowers are scented and creamy-white in colour, appearing from early summer. Flowers lead onto small, black, berry fruits.

These flowers are easily identifiable due to their distinctive shape; they look like small lilies with long stems and large petals.

The plant produces small clusters of greenish-white flowers, each with five petals in the shape of an urn. These blooms appear from May until August but will be more prevalent during June and July.

Common Elder Sambucus nigra Berries. Elderberry black berries in the woods.
Common Elder Sambucus nigra Berries. Elderberry blackberries in the woods.

Fruits/Seeds: Common Elder also produces seedpods called “elderberries” which range in colour from green to black depending on ripeness before eventually turning brown when they dry out and fall off their respective plants.

Smell: Common Elder is characterized by its unpleasant smell which some people describe as similar to mouldy carrots or wet leaves.

Common Elder Seasonal Changes

Some common elder weeds are called such because they tend to show up in the late summer and early autumn. Although some of these plants might not be too much trouble, others can wreak havoc on a garden or lawn if left unchecked!

One way that you may tell an elder weed from other similar-looking species is by looking at their leaves; many members have large, often heart-shaped foliage with scalloped edges while others boast more rounded shapes.

Common Elder in Spring

Common elder, also known as Sambucus canadensis and European black elderberry is a plant that blooms in the springtime. The flowers are yellow-green with five petals each about one inch long.

They grow on green stems which produce small berries or fruit when they turn red along their entire length to purple-black over time if left unattended by humans (though not usually).

Small scented, white flowers appear in spring, The leaves and flowers of this weed release pollen in the springtime that can cause allergies. However, these symptoms are not present during other seasons because less pollen exists due to the lack of blossoms on the plant.

Common Elder in Summer

Summertime is a busy season for the common elder. The large leaves of the tree grow and change colours in response to increased daylight hours, so they’re more easily found from an aerial view. In addition, its fruit becomes ripe and easier to spot during this time of year.

The foliage is also attractive, with green and dark, almost black-leaved varieties available, some with very finely cut and highly ornamental leaves.

During early summer, it flowers flat sprays of small creamy-white flowers. However, these are then followed by red, white, or blackberries.

Common Elder in Autumn

Elder weed is a type of plant that looks like it has fallen victim to the changing seasons. When autumn approaches, their leaves start turning an attractive yellow colour and fall off in preparation for winter’s wrath.

Common Elder in Winter

Common elder weed is a perennial plant that grows in shady areas. In the winter, it’s often found with damp, mossy leaves and looks like small shrubs or bushes.

Common elder weed is a plant that withstands the winter cold with little difficulty because of its ability to shed leaves and enter into dormancy. The weed’s form in winter can be easily mistaken for an ornamental tree or shrub, making it difficult to know what type of foliage you’re looking at.

Blooming elderflower in garden Sambucus nigra .
Blooming elderflower in garden Sambucus nigra.

How to get rid of Common Elder

If you have small children around, be careful because they may want to eat these tasty-looking yellow flowers which are poisonous and can cause stomach aches, vomiting and dehydration among other serious symptoms – especially if eaten raw.

The most effective control for this weed is removal before flowering occurs because it can then spread seed prolifically throughout your garden if left unchecked.

This weed spreads through broken roots so removing them at ground level where they touch soil while wearing gloves may help reduce contact dermatitis symptoms.

Method One – Herbicide Treatment

One way that seems to be rather effective for homeowners without much space or landscaping to deal with is spraying them down with any type of herbicide like Roundup® Weed & Grass Killer Plus Dye™ which contains roundup plus dye.

This is easier to see as well as kill-it should take effect right away after coming into contact with foliage while still allowing time for rain runoff during application; once dry, new growth will have been cut at its roots preventing future sprouting from occurring because the diluted solution remains active for up to four days until dissolving back into the soil.

Method Two – Cutting it out

Another option is to use a push mower on its highest setting, or a rotary mower set at their lowest level of cut height if you have one: weeds like Common Elder grow low and close to the ground which makes them relatively easy targets during this type of operation while still providing a sense of accomplishment from taking care of it yourself without using chemicals.

Check the lawn for any leftover remnants with your eyes and then use clippers on taller weeds as needed.

If this is done quickly it should take less than 30 minutes per 500 square feet but could be longer depending on how much time has elapsed since last trimming (especially in summer) or the size of weed stalks-it’s also important to note that these recommendations are based off levels equivalent to what you would see around here, adjust according to local conditions such as climate and temperatures; some recommend using fertilizer after cutting down

Common Elder because they can interfere with nutrient absorption by grass blades due to their roots’ ability to take up more nutrients than other weeds.

Common Elder Management

Common Elder is a perennial plant that will grow back even after being cut down or pulled up, but it can be slowed with repeated cutting, digging out the roots and using herbicides to reduce regrowth from root fragments.

For those who want to keep these pesky plants away for good without pesticides but still enjoy beautiful gardens all year long (not just when it’s convenient!), there is an alternative solution: cover your landscaping area with mulch after first watering thoroughly then let time do its thing until next spring.

In Conclusion

Common Elder are a tough plant but with this guide outlining all areas for attack, we hope you’re ready to fight back against this enemy before they get too far into your garden again!

Common Elder are a very adaptable weed that grows in our gardens today and is one of the most resistant. However, using one of the products mentioned below will eliminate it.