Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) Seeds

$ 6.00

A dramatic native shrub with arching branches covered with large flat-topped clusters of white flowers in summer followed by deep purple fruit. Bees are attracted to the flowers and stems provide overwintering habitat for pollinators' larvae. Birds and humans relish the fruits. 

Native to Maine: Yes

Growing conditions: Sun to part shade in medium to wet soil

Grows up to: 8-10'

Blooms: In summer

Pairs well with: Silky dogwood and winterberry holly in a mixed hedge

Natural habitat: Wet meadows, hedgerows, and roadsides.

Seeds per packet: 30 (moist-stratified)

Germination Code(s): E and F
Sow these seeds immediately upon receipt, outdoors in pots from November through February, and look for germination in the second spring. This species is challenging to grow, and a great species for more experienced seed-sowers.

Each seed package carries a specific germination code along with the plant description. These codes indicate specific sowing instructions.

  • A Seeds can be sown outdoors in fall or early spring.
  • B Seeds need a winter or cold period to germinate. Sow outdoors in fall or winter.
  • C Seeds need light to germinate; sow on soil surface and leave uncovered.
  • D Seeds need alternating cycles of warm-to-cold-to-warm to germinate. They can be sown either outdoors in spring or summer and will germinate the following year or in a flat in a warm place for 3 months, then moved to a refrigerator for 2 months, then moved outside in the early summer warmth.
  • E Seeds can not be allowed to dry out. Sow immediately.
  • F Seeds take two years to germinate. Sow outside in the fall or winter and look for germination in the second spring. A shady location prevents the flats from rapid drying and reduces weeding
  • G Large seeds should be soaked overnight in water.
  • FERN: Sow spores in a warm bright location in a sealed container and keep moist. Directions enclosed with package. Challenging.

If you have specific questions about seeds and germination guidelines please contact us at

All seeds can be sown and placed outdoors in fall or winter bypassing the need for an artificial indoor cold stratification (refrigerator) required for some species when planted in spring. This is the simplest method. See How to Grow Natives From Seed for detailed instructions.