Sambucus nigra 'Eva' BLACK LACE

Tried and Trouble-free Recommended by 4 Professionals
Common Name: black elder
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Adoxaceae
Zone: 4 to 7
Height: 6.00 to 8.00 feet
Spread: 6.00 to 8.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to July
Bloom Description: Pink
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: High
Suggested Use: Hedge, Naturalize, Rain Garden
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Leaf: Colorful
Attracts: Birds, Butterflies
Fruit: Showy, Edible
Tolerate: Clay Soil


Grow in medium to wet, well-drained soils in full sun to light shade. Best foliage color is in full sun. Tolerates a wide range of soils, but prefers moist, humusy ones. Spreads by root suckers to form colonies. Prune suckers as they appear unless naturalizing. A large number of late winter pruning options include (a) pruning out dead or weakened stems, (b) shortening one year stems or (c) cutting back to the ground to rejuvenate. Some horticulturists recommend a hard spring pruning for maintaining best foliage and habit. Regular pruning of the foliage of this cultivar will promote growth of additional purple leaves.

Noteworthy Characteristics

BLACK LACE is a cultivar of European elderberry. It is particularly noted for its deeply cut dark purple foliage, its lemon-scented, pink flowers and its dark blackish-red elderberries. It is a large, upright, deciduous shrub that typically matures to 6-8’ tall. It was developed in England in a somewhat complex 10-year breeding program commenced in 1988. Compound pinnate leaves (3-7 ovate to elliptic leaflets each) are dark purple and generally retain that color throughout most of the growing season. Leaflets are deeply cut (laciniate). Young stems are also purple, with older branches being a rough, gray-brown. Tiny pink flowers appear in large flattened cymes (to 10” across) in June. Flowers emit a lemony aroma. Flowers give way to clusters of black elderberry fruits in late summer. Fruits of species plants have been used to make jams and jellies, but are not considered to be as flavorful as the American elderberry (Sambucus canadensis). Species fruits have also been used to make elderberry wine. Fruits are attractive to wildlife. U.S. Plant Patent PP15,575 issued February 22, 2005.


Some susceptibility to canker, powdery mildew, leaf spot, borers, spider mites and aphids. Branches are susceptible to damage from high winds or from heavy snow/ice in winter.

Garden Uses

Good accent shrub featuring dark purple leaves, attractive flowers and interesting fruits. Landscape specimen, shrub borders, screens or backgrounds. Good shrub for stream/pond peripheries or low spots. Good hedge.