Plenty of Flowers on your Elderberry but no Fruit?


Ever wondered why your elderberry does not set fruit? I wondered, but not too much since without a net I don’t get fruit here anyway. So I thought it was the birds, anyway, I am after the flowers rather than the fruit.

It was Joseph, full of old-timers wisdom who told me why: Once he was driving to Lithgow and at the roadside he saw an elderberry tree just like back at home laden with fruit. They harvested bucket loads of the fruit.

Most of the elderberries sold in Australia are probably sterile; the usual Elderberry we harvested back in Germany does self-seed and has the potential to spread. One of the official weed sites of NSW shows the invasive elderberry: the photo looks exactly like my elder, spent flowers but no fruit set. Have a look if yours look the same:

I am embarrassed having sold elderberries too, which were not elderberries but elderflowers. However there are lots of accounts from people using the berries of the elder – so the real elderberry is around and probably not only on the way to Lithgow.

I would like to know more about this, and why is Sambucus nigra suddenly the American elderberry, since it is an ancient Northern European plant?

Buy ElderFLOWER here, Elderberries are in production!

The photo was taken from this site:

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8 thoughts on “Plenty of Flowers on your Elderberry but no Fruit?”

  1. Thankyou.. I really appreciate this information. I was wondering why I was only getting flowers and not any berries.

  2. Thank you so much! All summer for the past 3 years its basically all I talk about 😅 thank you for answers

  3. Hi Petros, there is this sterile variety in Australia, people are concerned about weeds. My husband thinks that the European one is deciduous and the sterile one is not. Maybe?

    • Now it makes sense why my elders don’t set fruit!
      They flower prolifically all year round (I live in the central west of NSW). I’ve worked out I have two varieties. One has no scent, and sets no fruit. Pollinators show no interest. The other has the usual Elderflower scent but still doesn’t set fruit. I thought it was birds or bugs, but I’ve never observed anything eating the flowers.

    • My elder tree is the same; beautiful and fragrant flowers, green berries come.. but so far, the flowers then shrivel, leaving dark brown spent heads. We are in a cold temperate clime and the leaves do not drop.

  4. American Elderberry is actually Sambucus canadensis, so maybe some people have been getting them mixed up with the European Sambucas Nigra.

    I have also had this problem but the second Elderflower/berry looks like it might be setting little fruit but it is a bit hard to tell at the moment apart from there being tiny modules now post-bloom… fingers crossed.

    All the best.

    • Apart from the invasive aspect, a veterinarian friend told me the fruit is poisonous to some native birds.

      I think I may have the sterile variety. Grows prolifically, massive flower heads (30cm) but no scent. Is the lack of scent a feature of the sterile plants or is it my cultivation? I am in Canberra and conditions have been kind of European since I planted it in 2021 (high rainfall cool summers).


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