i've been told elderberry bushes affect surrounding soil to the extent other types of plants will not do well (much like black walnut) -
old wives tale or fact?
Elderberry stems and roots contain cyanide so I would say true. I grow all of mine in containers - probably could google it and find out more information
When dealimng with things biological - NEVER SAY NEVER, NEVER SAY ALWAYS . I have a stand of american elderberries and growing in and alongside are quite a variety of plants: barberry, physostegia, tomato, grass, silver dollar, etc., etc. There is an old British myth that if you sleep under an elderberry tree you will receive a narcotic effect from the fragrance emmited by the plant; this same fragrance is said to be fatal to other plants. Perhaps this is where the idea came from.
Of course, next will be an email from an expert with the USDA and it will state unequivicolly(sp)that plants will either not grow under elderberry, or their growth will be retarded, and in which case I will have to go outside and tell all those plants that they are not doing what they are supposed to be doing.....Elder
I am familiar with both red and blue elderberries native to the Pacific Northwest; they tend to grow on the edge of clearings and are often closely surrounded by other plants.
Elderberry is not allelopathic like black walnut.
My elderberry plants are surrounded by a variety of garden plants as well as the lawn. I do not see a toxicity effect in the vicinity of the elderberries.
I'm coming in late on this one, but I've noticed that nothing else will grow where the roots of my elder tree are. And I've tried LOTS of different things, even mints.
Elder is very common in hedgerows over here and it is invariably surrounded by a mixture of other shrubs and plants. I have a hedge which includes, apart from elder, hawthorn, sloes, dogwood, brambles and field maple. At its base grow daffodils, many grasses, stinging nettles, red campion, aquilegia, forget-me-nots and a lot of other wild flowers. So even if some things possibly don't like to be near it there are plenty of plants which couldn't care less. They thrive in heavy soils with plenty of moisture so maybe NSW is not their optimum habitat and they therefore take a lot of the goodness from the ground around them. (All this refers to Sambucus nigra.)