Viburnaceae (viburnum family) Sambucus

Sambucus racemosa var. racemosa red elderberry

San Mateo County to Washington State

The five or seven leaflets of S. callicarpa are finely toothed, and some of them may have opposite leaflets based at distinctly different points on the main vein. The red berries, which are supposed to be poisonous, are a conspicuous feature along Northern California’s Redwood Highway in summer. Campus specimens have been lost in recent years.

Plain S. racemosa applies to the European red elderberry. The West Coast red elderberry was described under the name S. callicarpa; the revision S. racemosa callicarpa reminds a reader that there is little difference between the European and Pacific Coast plants. However, more recently, S. callicarpa has been treated under S. racemosa var. racemosa.

Name derivation: Sambucus – from the Greek word sambuke, see California Plant Names, compiled by Michael L. Charters; callicarpa – beautyberry.

About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the S. callicarpa entry in the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005. Recently updated scientific name noted (Jan 2018, SP). Family updated from Caprifoliaceae to Adoxaceae (Nov 2019, SP). Family updated to Viburnaceae; species and native range remain to be sorted out (May 2023, SP).