Elder, a tree or shrub of the honeysuckle family. The American, or common, elder is also called elderberry. It is found from Nova Scotia to Texas and Florida. It grows to 12 feet (3.7 m) in moist soils bordering forests and fields. The elderberry is often grown as an ornamental for its flat clusters of showy white flowers. It has toothed leaves that grow to six inches (15 cm) long. The elderberry's purplish-black fruit, when mature, is used in making jellies, sauces, pie, and wine. It is also eaten by birds and mammals. The immature fruit, as well as the rest of the elderberry, is poisonous.
The American red-berried, or red, elder grows to 15 feet (4.6 m). It is found throughout eastern North America. It is grown as an ornamental for its cone-shaped clusters of white flowers. The red-berried elder has oval leaves that grow to five inches (12.5 cm) long. It bears inedible scarlet fruit.
The European elder grows to 30 feet (9 m). It has clusters of yellowish-white flowers and shiny black edible fruit. It is found in Europe, North Africa, and western Asia.
The American elder is Sambucus canadensis; the American red-berried elder, S. pubens; the European elder, S. nigra. All belong to the honeysuckle family, Caprifoliaceae.