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Sambucus (racemosa)

Tara Luna
USDI NPS - Glacier National Park
West Glacier, Montana 59936
(406) 888-7835

Family Scientific Name: Caprifoliaceae
Family Common Name: Honeysuckle family
Scientific Name: Sambucus racemosa L. melanocarpa (Gray) McMinn.
Common Synonym: Sambucus melanocarpa (Gray) McMinn.
Common Name: Black elderberry
Species Code: SAMRAC
Ecotype: Subalpine forest, Avalanche Lake, 1100m elev., Glacier National Park, Flathead Co., MT.
General Distribution: S. racemosa is found from B.C. east throughout Canada and the northeastern U.S., south from B.C. to California and through the Rocky Mountains to New Mexico.
Propagation Goal: plants
Propagation Method: seed
ProductType: Container (plug)
Stock Type: 3 L containers
Time To Grow: 10 Months
Target Specifications: Height: 25 cm<br> Caliper: 7 mm<br> Root System: firm plug in 3L (1 gallon) containers.
Propagule Collection: Seeds are hand collected in late August and September when fruit turns black. Achenes are tan at maturity. Seeds are collected in plastic bags and kept refrigerated prior to cleaning.
Propagule Processing: Seeds are extracted from fruit by maceration using a Dyb-vig cleaner and screens.
Seed longevity: at least 2 years at 5C in sealed containers.
Seed dormancy is classified as morpho-physiological dormancy.
Seeds/Kg: 420,000/ kg
% Purity: 100%
% Germination: 36% to 50% without gibberellic acid treatment; 93% with gibberellic acid treatment
Pre-Planting Treatments: Seeds treated with 1,000 ppm gibberellic acid soak for 24 hours, followed by a 3:1 water/hydrogen peroxide soak for 10minutes; followed by a 72 hour running water rinse. Seeds are placed into 90 day cold, moist stratification.
Sambucus seeds require an after- ripening period and softening of the hard seed coats for high germination rates.
Growing Area Preparation/
Annual Practices for Perennial Crops:
Greenhouse and outdoor nursery.
Sowing Method: Direct Seeding. Seeds are covered with medium.
Growing medium used is 6:1:1 milled sphagnum peat, perlite, and vermiculite with Osmocote controlled release fertilizer (13N:13P2O5:13K2O; 8 to 9 month release rate at 21C) and Micromax fertilizer (12%S, 0.1%B, 0.5%Cu, 12%Fe, 2.5%Mn, 0.05%Mo, 1%Zn) at the rate of 1 gram of Osmocote and 0.20 gram of Micromax per 172 ml conetainer.
Greenhouse temperatures are maintained at 21 to 25C during the day and 16 to 18C at night.
Seedlings are hand watered and remain in greenhouse until mid May. Seedlings are then moved to outdoor nursery for the remainder of the growing season.
Establishment Phase: Germination occurs at 22C and is usually complete in 20 days. Cotyledon to true leaf stage is 2 weeks. Seedlings are thinned at this stage.
Length of Establishment Phase: 4 weeks
Active Growth Phase: Seedling growth is rapid following germination. Seedlings are fertilized with 20-20-20 liquid NPK at 100 ppm twice weekly and increase in height to 17 centimeters in 10 weeks. Root development is very rapid and fill conetainers 4 weeks after germination. Seedlings are then potted up into 3L containers. Seedlings are root tight in 3L (1 gallon) containers in 3 months. This species requires frequent fertilization during the growing season.
Length of Active Growth Phase: 16 weeks
Hardening Phase: Plants are fertilized with 10-20-20 liquid NPK at 200 ppm during August and September. Pots are leached with clear water before overwintering.
Length of Hardening Phase: 4 weeks
Harvesting, Storage and Shipping: Total Time To Harvest: 10 months
Harvest Date: September
Storage Conditions: Overwinter in outdoor nursery under insulating foam and snow.
Length of Storage: 5 months
Other Comments: Seedling development is the most rapid of all the woody species produced at the Glacier nursery. Seedlings require frequent uppotting and pruning if stock is to be held in the nursery longer than 1 year.
There are 4 botanical varieties: melanocarpa, arborescens, microbotrys, and leucocarpa.
References: Flora of the Pacific Northwest, Hitchcock and Cronquist, University of Washington Press, 7th printing, 1990.
Seeds of the Woody Plants in North America, Young and Young, Dioscorides Press, 1992.
Seeds of the Woody Plants in the United States, Agriculture Handbook No. 450, U.S.F.S., Washington D.C., 1974.
Seed Germination Theory and Practice, 2nd Edition, N. Deno, published June 1993.
Glacier Park Native Plant Nursery Propagation Records, unpublished.
Seeds: Ecology, Biogeography and Evolution of Dormancy and Germination, Baskin and Baskin, Academic Press, 1998.


Luna, Tara; Evans, Jeff; Wick, Dale; Hosokawa, Joy. 2008. Propagation protocol for production of Container (plug) Sambucus racemosa L. plants 3 L containers; USDI NPS - Glacier National Park West Glacier, Montana. In: Native Plant Network. URL: http://NativePlantNetwork.org (accessed 2021/09/19). US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, National Center for Reforestation, Nurseries, and Genetic Resources.

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