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Published In: Species Plantarum 1: 269. 1753. (1 May 1753) (Sp. Pl.) Name publication detailView in BotanicusView in Biodiversity Heritage Library

Project Name Data (Last Modified On 8/11/2017)
Acceptance : Accepted
Project Data     (Last Modified On 8/4/2009)


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2. Sambucus L. (elderberry)

Plants shrubs or small trees with soft wood. First-year twigs 3–8 mm thick, the pith large, solid but soft or spongy. Winter buds more or less ovoid, with several overlapping scales. Leaves with well-developed, unwinged petioles, none perfoliate. Stipules absent or, if present, then small, usually shed early, herbaceous or glandular, linear (note that the primary leaf divisions also frequently have linear, stipulelike outgrowths at their bases). Leaf blades pinnately usually 1 time compound, but rarely (in horticultural forms) the primary divisions again irregularly 1 or 2 times lobed, dissected, or compound, the leaflets otherwise lanceolate to narrowly oblong or elliptic, the margins sharply toothed. Flowers in dense panicles, terminal on the branches, the branch points with inconspicuous, minute, ovate to triangular bracts, the individual flowers bractless. Calyx lobes inconspicuous, 0.2–0.8 mm long, oblong to ovate-triangular. Corollas 2–3 mm long, actinomorphic, more or less bell-shaped with a cup-shaped tube about 1 mm long and a spreading, 5-lobed portion 3–5 mm in diameter (measured across the top of the flower), the lobes rounded, white or pale yellow. Style absent or nearly so, the deeply 3–5-lobed stigma appearing sessile. Fruits berrylike drupes, 4–6(–7) mm in diameter, more or less spherical, orangish red to red or bluish black at maturity. Seedlike nutlets (also called pyrenes or stones) 3–5, 2.5–3.0 mm long, more or less obovate to elliptic in outline, somewhat flattened or bluntly 3-angled, the surface roughened with irregular, fine cross-wrinkles or blunt, low ridges, yellowish brown to brownish yellow. Nine to 20 species, nearly worldwide, most diverse in temperate and montane regions.

The stems, leaves and roots of Sambucus species are poisonous, and ingestion can cause vomiting and diarrhea. They have been used medicinally in the past, taken as strong purgatives or applied externally for skin disorders.


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1 1. Inflorescences more or less flat-topped, lacking an elongate main axis, instead with usually 5 primary branches; fruits bluish black to purplish black (rarely red), palatable; stems with the pith white ... 1. S. CANADENSIS

Sambucus canadensis
2 1. Inflorescences ovoid to more or less pyramidal, the solitary main axis elongate; fruits usually bright red (rarely yellow elsewhere), unpalatable; stems with the pith brown ... 2. S. PUBENS Sambucus pubens
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