America elder is a deciduous shrub that grows up to 3 m tall. Sometimes it can grow to more than the 3m. It is native to most parts of America.
These trees are grown in average, medium to wet soils. Full sun to part shade is required for proper development. It is good to prune them in order to get the dead or weaker stems in early spring. If one needs a smaller size too, it can be achieved through pruning.
The leaves of this tree are pinnate with toothed leaflets and arranged in opposite pairs. The leaflets are around 10cm and 5 cm broad.
The flowers are normally seen in summer. The big white flowers are borne above the foliage measuring around 5mm in diameter. The foliage is showy as well as the white flowers. Surprisingly these flowers are edible.
The fruits are dark purple to black measuring 3-5mm in diameter. They are also show and produce drooping clusters in the fall. The berries too are edible but other parts of the tree contain calcium oxalate crystals which are poisonous. Some other researchers say that the fruit has to be cooked first before eating.
Maintaining of this tree does not need much. Needs watering especially when it is dry. It is not drought resistant since most of the times it is seen in stream banks and wet woodlands.
The tree attracts bird and butterflies. Most birds find shelter with this tree and the fruits are their food.
American elder can be used for various purposes. Almost all parts of this tree have some uses. The fruit is used for making medicinal products, dye, wine and jelly. The leaves and the inner bark are used as an insecticide. Stems are used for spouts, toys and musical instruments.
The tree is affected by powdery mildew, rust, virus diseases, bores and fungal leaf spots.