Soil Preference: Acid soil, Alkaline soil, Moist, well-drained soil, Wet soil. Light Exposure: Full sun, Partial sun/shade, Full shade
It is a deciduous shrub or small tree growing to 6 m (20 ft) tall and wide (rarely 10m tall). The bark, light grey when young, changes to a coarse grey outer bark with lengthwise furrowing. The fruit is a glossy dark purple to black berry 3–5 mm diameter, produced in drooping clusters in late autumn; they are an important food for many fruit-eating birds. The dark blue or purple berries are mildly poisonous in their raw state. Unripe berries, the seeds of the fruit, and all green parts of the plant are poisonous, containing cyanogenic glycosides. The berries are edible after cooking and may be used to make jam, jelly, chutney, and Pontack sauce. In Scandinavia and Germany, soup made from the elderberry (e.g. the German Fliederbeersuppe) is a traditional meal. Commonly, the flowerheads are used in infusions, giving a very refreshing drink in Northern Europe and the Balkans. These drinks are sold commercially as Elderflower cordial. In Europe, the flowers are made into a syrup or cordial which is diluted with water before drinking. The popularity of this traditional drink recently has encouraged some commercial soft drink producers to introduce elderflower-flavoured drinks. The flowers also may be dipped into a light batter and then fried to make elderflower fritters.