Elderberry Invasive?

shellva(Camden 7b/8a)

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!

Thanks,

Michelle

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Comments (21)
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davidl_ny5

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.

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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)

Barb
southern Ontario, CANADA

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bob64(6)

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.

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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.......

Michelle

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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.

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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.

Michelle

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charmed

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.

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benet1800

I also planted two elderberry in a corner of my yard to supplement my native plantings for wildlife. However I sunk boards six inches deep around the plant allowing the shallow roots to sucker in a set 5x5 box. Hope this works. I have just recently controlled my Virginia creeper - do not plant on a fence!!

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wisconsitom(Zone 4/5)

.....unless you want Virginia creeper on a fence! Like I have. It's perfect for what I'm after.

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docmom_gw(5)

I am also a fan of elderberry (and Virginia Creeper on a fence) specifically because it does spread. I have a huge fenced yard, and I am always looking for native options to help cover the metallic eye-sore. My elderberry was planted two summers ago, so this is it's third summer. Mine hasn't spread more than a few inches from the original stalk, so far.

Martha

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benet1800

Yes. It's great for a metal fence. But will do damage to a wood fence by separating the panels. I am getting some to grow onto a brush pile. Also tried planting in a big planter to see if still grows well with roots contained.

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benet1800

Good to know on the elderberry maybe I will plant more. Starting to bloom now

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wisconsitom(Zone 4/5)

Technically-and this is my opinion, although I'm right, lol, a native plant in its native range cannot be considered invasive. For such a situation, the correct term would be aggressive. Invasive, buy definition, indicates its having the ability to crowd out native plant species and whole plant communities. As such, the term invasive doesn't fit...again, where that plant is native. I get into this distinction all the time, and some will disagree. For those times, it's important to remember....I'm right, lol!

As I see it, the term invasive, as applied to plant species, has entered the popular lexicon, similar to how all of a sudden, half of your friends said they were gluten-intolerant. Of course they weren't but it became very popular to make the claim.

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gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

Tom is correct (as usual....he is after all always right!! LOL!) The term 'invasive' has a rather specific definition attached to it and it seldom applies to any native plant - in its natural range or not - as these usually (but not always) do not have an ability to outcompete or dominate other native vegetation. Aggressive spreaders or freely self seeding will sometimes define the characteristics or growth of native or naturalized but not technically "invasive" plants. Official 'invasive plants' definition.

And a great many native trees and shrubs produce a suckering or ever expanding growth habit - that's just the manner in which they grow. But they are not considered invasive because of this. btw, there are many cultivated forms of elderberry (Sambucus sp.) that do not sucker as aggressively as the native species and make great garden ornamentals. But maybe not as valuable for berry production or in a wildlife garden.

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wisconsitom(Zone 4/5)

Thanks buddy! My favorite example to date of the misapplication of the term invasive was from Houzz itself....can't remember which specific gardening forum, but anyway, the person said that ground ivy-Glechoma-was invasive in her lawn. Now let's unpack that thought process; First, her lawn, my lawn, and pretty much everybody's lawn consists entirely of non-native species, things like Kentucky bluegrass (not originally from Kentucky nor North America for that matter), various fescues and perhaps some perennial rye. None of these species of turf grasses are native to the location where our lawns are now growing. Then there's the weed itself-yes, capable of infesting a lawn to a huge degree, but in that case, no native plant community is being invaded. As such, impossible for it to be invasive in that setting. Aggressive? Oh yeah. But not invasive. And for that matter, I'm not gluten-intolerant.

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barbarag_happy(8A)

When in doubt, check your state's invasive species list. Ground Ivy is officially invasive in our state, virtually the only common lawn weed bearing that distinction!

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Sylvia Wheeler

If I plant elderberry in a big pot, Will it still be able to thrive? I don't want it to spread

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dandy_line (Z3b N Cent Mn)

I don't see Eldderberry spreading, but the birds do reseed it. In eight years time I have gone from a few to around 30 or 40 bushes now. The birds go crazy for the berries in May. I had constant visitors of: Cedar Wax Wings, Catbird, Bluebird, Indigo Bunting, Scarlet Tanager, Robins, Baltimore orioles, Rose Breasted Grosbeaks, And probably others that I cannot remember.

This is a true Wonder Plant for bird life. Do not discard.

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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

It would need to be a very big pot.

Berries in May, dandy? Round here they ripen in August. They flower in May.

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dandy_line (Z3b N Cent Mn)

Yes Flo, the S racemosa is the first to flower in Spring around mid April, but canadensis is later in July with berries in August.

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dandy_line (Z3b N Cent Mn)

Another observation I just discovered. My racemosa species forms a bush, usually from one stem. The canadensis on the other hand does sucker up into a colony. This wasn't obvious to me until recently.

However, I highly recommend either species as the bird life thrives on them.

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