Purple leaved Elder Sambucus nigra Black Beauty

Description & features

British Grown - The British Grown logo denotes plants and trees that have been both propagated and grown in the UK. Read more

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Bare root guide

Size and quantity

Photo
Size / Height
Price
Quantity
 
15L pot size / 60-80cm
£45.00

All prices include VAT

All prices include VAT

All prices include VAT

All prices include VAT

British Grown - The British Grown logo denotes plants and trees that have been both propagated and grown in the UK. Read more

Product description

Sambucus nigra Black Beauty

This new introduction has very dark purple, almost black foliage. The large bunches of pink flowers appear in mid-summer and smell of citrus.

They are followed by blackish red berries which can be harvested for making elderberry wine and jam, or left on the plant to attract birds and other wildlife. Sambucus nigra Black Beauty is very easy to grow, and adaptable to most sites.

Full sun is needed for the best leaf colour. Left to grow fully it will reach 2.5m (8ft) in height, but can also be pruned back each year to fit into more formal settings.

 

Features

Mature height
Very Small up to 5 metres
Spread
0-5 metres
Shape / habit
Shrub Multi-Stem
Growth rate
Fast
Soil type
All soil types
Sun levels
Full sun
Difficulty / hard to grow
Easy
Evergreen / Deciduous
Deciduous
Season of interest
Spring
Summer
Leaf
Purple/Red
Foliage
Early to Leaf
Large Leaves
Flower colour
Pink
Flowering month
May
June
Scent
Scented Flowers
Berries / fruit colour
Black
Uses
Small garden Tree
City/Urban Sites
Bird Food
Suitable for Containers
Suitable for Patio

Features

Mature height
Very Small up to 5 metres
Spread
0-5 metres
Shape / habit
Shrub Multi-Stem
Growth rate
Fast
Soil type
All soil types
Sun levels
Full sun
Difficulty / hard to grow
Easy
Evergreen / Deciduous
Deciduous
Season of interest
Spring
Summer
Leaf
Purple/Red
Foliage
Early to Leaf
Large Leaves
Flower colour
Pink
Flowering month
May
June
Scent
Scented Flowers
Berries / fruit colour
Black
Uses
Small garden Tree
City/Urban Sites
Bird Food
Suitable for Containers
Suitable for Patio

Aftercare

For the continued healthy growth of your trees, shrubs or hedging it is vital that you follow the advice below.

Watering

The main reason that plants die within 12 months of having been planted is lack of water.  It is essential throughout the spring and summer, to give a heavy enough watering to enable the water to penetrate right down to the deepest root level of the tree.  In hot dry spells give the equivalent of 2 bucketfuls every three days.

Weed Control

One of the most common causes of lack of water is competition from grass.  When trees are first establishing, the grass roots would be at the same level as the tree roots and are far more efficient at taking up water and thus choke the tree.  It is vital for 3 years after planting that your tree or hedge has a circle or strip one  metre wide completely free of grass.  The way to eliminate grass in order of effectiveness is:

  1. Spray off the grass with a glyphosate based weed killer such as Roundup.  Apply each year for the first 3 years.  It is best applied when the tree is dormant as it is absorbed through green leaves and kills the plant off at the roots.
  2. Firmly fit a mulch mat around the base of the tree by tucking the edges into the soil and put a thick layer of bark mulch on top of this.  This can be done after the initial spraying with glyphosate and should avoid the need for further spraying.

Mowing or strimming is NOT an answer to the problem.  Each time you mow, the grass will grow back more vigorously and strimming invariably leads to lacerated trunks.

Staking

If trees are not correctly secured they will rock in the planting pit. Roots not firmly in contact with the soil are unable to take up moisture and nutrients, resulting in die back or death of the tree.  Check, particularly after windy weather, that stakes are still solidly in the ground keeping the base of the trunk firm.  The purpose of the stakes is to anchor the roots.   Flexing in the wind, higher up the trunk, is not necessarily a problem if the roots are firm.

Bellow is list of the correct system to use to secure your trees.

  • 40/60, 60/80, 80/100 whips - Unless rabbit/deer problem no need to stake.
  • 100/125, 125/150  1.2m Cane and Easi tie.
  • 150/175  1.2m square stake and a buckle tie and spacer.
  • 175/250, 6/8, 8/10 15L 1.65 Tree stake and a buckle tie and spacer.
  • All larger trees. 2 x 1.65 Tree stake and cross rail with 38mm cushion spacer and 1m of 38mm strapping.

Ties

Always use our recommended tree ties or strapping.  These are designed and manufactured with the correct amount of give to hold the tree firm without strangling it. They should be checked at the end of each growing season for adjustment as the trunk thickens.  Non proprietary materials such as baler twine will cut into the bark and should not be used.

Protection from Animal Damage

Rabbits, deer, sheep, cattle and horses can all potentially damage trees.  Ask us for advice on the most appropriate guards for your trees or hedge.  Squirrels are also a terrible pest when trees get to about 20ft tall but there is no protection available.


Comments

By lenie on 29/05/2014

We have just bought a purple elder some say that it is highly toxic if you make wine or use the flowers to make cordial.  I wonder if anyone has tried it yet and lived to tell the tale.

By Simon on 03/06/2014

Hello Lenie,

I have never tried it but there are a couple of recipes on the internet that use the purple venerates http://snapguide.com/guides/make-pink-elderflower-cordial. So I’m afraid I can’t give you a definite answer on this one, could try e-mailing the RHS. 

Sorry I couldn’t be of more help.

By jds on 04/02/2016

I have a sambucus black beauty which has been in the ground for about 4 years.  It grows well and is about 6 feet tall and wide.  But the leaves remain green and do not turn the lovely purple/black.  The tree receives partial shade, but also afternoon sun.  What can I do to make the leaves turn black?

Thanks for any information

By Simon on 05/02/2016

Dear JDS,

You could try cutting the plant right back and mulching in early spring to encourage fresh growth with good colour. It is possible that the partial shade is preventing it colouring up well, but I’d try this to see if it works.

By AlisonD on 06/05/2016

Hi I have 2 Black Beauty’s in my garden. They are over 15ft tall and are about 10 years old. This year one of them has tiny leaves that have not grown in over a month whereas the other is growing ok. Any ideas as to why this would be as I’m stumped.
Thanks for any advice in advance
Ali

By Simon on 20/05/2016

Hello Ali,

Sorry to hear about your Sambucus Black Beauty. It’s difficult to say what has happened, but feel free to send a photo to us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and we can take a look. It might be worth giving it a good prune to try and renew it.

By Clare Abbott on 08/06/2016

I have a friend who makes wonderful pink cordial from the berries and has certainly not died as a result!
I thought my S.nigra Black beauty was dead and cut it down. The new shoots seem green not red. Is it grafted so the new shoots might be a common elder?

By Clare on 08/06/2016

Sorry, she made the cordial from the flowers

By Simon on 08/06/2016

Hello Clare,

Pleased to hear your friend’s cordial has done no harm! On the subject of green shoots, Sambucus Black Beauty is most likely to have been propagated from cuttings, so there shouldn’t be any danger of cutting below a graft. Although rare, it’s possible that the leaves have reverted. Alternatively it could be that there’s just not enough sun for them to colour up well where they are. They do tend to come out slightly green, darkening to purple-black. You can send a photo to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) if you would like us to take a look.

By Clare on 08/06/2016

Thank you, I won’t lose heart yet. Though I will replant it in a different place, because from 2010 it never thrived where it was. Elders are considered weeds in some places!
My friend’s cordial was absolutely delicious and a lovely colour

By jeff on 25/06/2016

Clare - yes I agree with Simon likely you need that guy in more sun.  The more sun the more robust the coloring.  They are very hearty so I wouldn’t be to concerned with transplanting….I have mine in a36in daim. pot and needed to move it early this May as the pot wouldn’t drain….when I lifted the container the roots had grown through the drain holes and completely plugged up the pot.  Needless to say, the tap roots broke off at the drain holes and I panicked…drilled out 3 new holes and put it back…sure enough every leaf wilted and fell off and I was bummed out thinking I killed it…..Here we are in late june and I have new growth all over the plant and some leaves already turning back to purple.  If I were to transplant however I would do so over winter when dormant - which is likely what I will do this coming year.  Good luck

By Sheila Doran on 04/08/2016

For the first time my Elder Black Beauty has not flowered I would appreciate any information that would help to make sure it will next year. I have had it for 15 years and never had this problem before.

By Nesta Mae on 24/09/2019

I have a Sambucus black lace.
I made some bottles of pink Elder flower champagne 2 years ago. A friend made cordial from the same flowers. I have not used the berries as yet.
I have just planted a black beauty shrub today (24/9/2019). The young leaves are certainly green and the older leaves mauve.

By Marilyn Jones on 19/11/2019

We have a Sambucus Black Beauty in our garden, which hasn’t thrived this year. It is about 18 years old, but seems to have just died. It’s such a shame as it was absolutely beautiful.  Is there anything we can do?

By Simon on 05/12/2019

Hello Marilyn,

I am sorry to hear your Sambucus is struggling. It is worth scraping the bark to see if it is still green underneath. If it is then it may well come back in the spring. If not you could try pruning it to the base and seeing if it comes back. They can respond well to coppicing if there is still life in the roots.

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