Elderberry Invasive?

shellva(Camden 7b/8a)March 28, 2007

hello everyone.

I'm trying to decide if I've made a huge mistake planting Elderberry. I THOUGHT I'd done my research on this plant. I THOUGHT it was a native to my region.

I planted it two years ago and I'm starting to see it spread rather far from its original spot and it's getting me a bit concerned.

I put two plants in the back corner of my property. Yesterday I saw it growing out from under my fence about 10-15 feet away from the original plant. Of course this area of new growth with get regular mowing. Does mowing keep this plant in check??? Is there something else I can do to keep it contained in a particular area? Or should I be getting out the shovel and getting rid of these plants ASAP. I'd rather start now than give it a few more years if they are indeed going to turn into uncontrolable monsters!

I appreciate any and all input!



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I know the common elderberry, Sambucus canadensis, suckers up some, forming a bigger clump. Mine does. I would not have expected it to spread 15 feet in two years, however. Perhaps it's a different species or really loves the area in which you've put it? I wouldn't think it would be so aggressive as to be a problem, though. Just pull, or dig, it up. Mowing ought to keep it down too, I would guess.

As an aside, the term "invasive" is not, I think, usually used for an aggressive native. It is usually reserved for an alien species that spreads without restraint in a new environment, because its usual predators, parasites, or the like, are not present.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 11:58AM
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knottyceltic(S/W Ontario 5b)

I have sambucus canadensis and yes, it is a suckering shrub/sm.tree so you have to control it by pruning the suckers. The one 15 feet away could be a planting by a bird/squirrel but it's not unheard of for the sucker to travel a ways. Normally though...they will sucker much much closer to the parent plant and keep venturing out a few inches to a foot on average before coming up again. Just use a pair of shears to cut off the suckers at the ground or move the shrub to a place where it can sucker more freely. I purposely planted mine next to my fence because I want it to sucker on the other side of the fence as well as on my side. Our properties are built on a "green space" so anything that grows can not be removed without permission from the city. Before the neighbours behind moved in I planted a dozen baby tulip trees and other natives and now if the elderberry suckers under the fence, they will have that too ;o)

southern Ontario, CANADA

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 1:38PM
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After a couple of years of battling the non-native invasives our elderberries have suddenly multiplied a lot in that new shrubs have popped up in many places even several yards from any others. So far mine don't seem invasive however.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 4:18PM
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shellva(Camden 7b/8a)

I spent the entire day on Wednesday, about 6 hours, digging up roots from the two elderberry plants. I filled one of the really big, industrial size black garbage bags with roots.

Eventually I dug up both plants. They are just sitting there on top of their original spots waiting for me to decide to keep or ditch.

I know invasive doesn't usually refer to natives but I guess for me invasive means anything that I have to work real hard keeping in check. I'm getting too old to be out there digging up roots every year to keep these plants in a central location.

Does anyone think putting a ring of that black edging stuff would keep these plants in their intended place or have I simply chosen the wrong plants for the wrong place? I do appreciate any advice.......


    Bookmark   March 30, 2007 at 8:33AM
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turbo_tpl(z7a Richland WA)

Well, part of the characteristics of that native plant is that it grows very rapidly and root suckers. If you feel that is not an attribute consistent with your desires, then I'd remove it (or go plant it on a roadside somewhere - it is a good wildlife plant).

From what I've seen, elderberry roots tend to be relatively shallow. To restrain it, you'd probably have to punch something down a foot or more, thought.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2007 at 10:38AM
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shellva(Camden 7b/8a)

Thanks Turbo. I think I might do as you suggest and go plant it somewhere in the wild. I really don't have the time or energy to keep up with this plant where I have it.

Guess it's back to the drawing board to find something else for that area of the yard.


    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 12:51AM
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I'd be interested in trading for some of the suckers if you're interested. I don't have a lot to offer because I'm a novice, but I do have some love-in-a-mist seeds and some leaf lettuce seeds all harvested last fall, and I could also pay postage of course.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 3:32PM
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