Mexican Elder

Sambucus nigra caerulea
Sambucus mexicana

pen&ink © by Michael Plagens

Pen and ink sketch by Mike Plagens.

TREE: Large shrub or small tree with usually multiple main stems and dark green leaves.

RANGE: Fairly common in riparian zones as a component of mesquite bosques mostly at elevations above 800 m in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. Occasionally used in landscaping in Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona. Various taxonomic treatments have lumped or split the Mexican Elder with other populations of the Blue Elderberry that range through much of the western United States.

FLOWERS: Large, flat-topped panicles of small white flowers in mid to late spring and occasionally into summer.

FRUIT: Small dark or bluish berries, summer to fall.


LEAVES: Large compound leaves are opposite on the stems.

Sambucus cerulea Photo © by Michael Plagens

At Mesquite Wash, Maricopa Co., Arizona. 05 May 2019.

Caprifoliaceae -- Honeysuckle Family
or Viburnaceae or Adoxaceae

More Information:

Sonoran Desert Field Guide
Sonoran Desert Places
Sonoran Desert Naturalist Home Page

Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 03 Jan 2004,
updated 19 June 2022.