Sambucus nigra ‘Eiffel1’ BLACK TOWER

Aren’t the breeders krafty, I often say to myself. Take European elder, for instance. This omnipresent shrub grows anywhere, without any maintenance and the more you prune it the thicker it gets. Well, what a promising start for cultivation, someone said. And here we are! So forget about the common weed of our countryside and dive in the world of SAMBUCUS, the world of colours, shapes and sizes that, with 10 different varieties, could well do for one complete garden.
BLACK TOWER is another child from the nursery breeding programme of popular Black Beauty and Black Lace®. It was awarded a prize for best new ornamental plant in England in 2010. It is a variety of European elder with deep burgundy black, deciduous leaves and strictly upright habit which is ideal for less spacious areas as opposed to common elder. The foliage colour is truly striking but not only its leaves make this shrub so special – in late spring flattened panicles of pinkish-white flowers appear and look exquisite on the deep purple-black background. They are followed by edible berries in late summer.
Elder tolerates wide ranges of soil and will be happy of almost any location. This variety grows quite neat and keeps its shape even without pruning but you can always gain a denser plant by early spring pruning. You can cut back anything from 1/3 to 2/3 of previous year’s growth but after hard pruning it will flower less. Fully hardy to about -30°C (USDA zone 5), possibly more. It is suitable for growing in containers and outdoor pots all year round.
Last update 02-01-2012

Sambucus nigra f. porphyrophylla ‘Black Tower’ (Elder ‘Black Tower’)

Botanical name

Sambucus nigra f. porphyrophylla ‘Black Tower’

Other names


Sambucus Sambucus

Variety or Cultivar

‘Black Tower’ _ ‘Black Tower’ is an upright, columnar deciduous shrub with dark stems, green when young, bearing pinnate, toothed, purple-black leaves and flattened panicles of fragrant, pink flowers in early summer followed by round, glossy, dark purple to black fruit in autumn.

Native to

Garden origin




Flowers are fragrant.




Any part of the plant may cause discomfort if ingested. However, the berries may be consumed when cooked.

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Pink in Summer

Dark-purple, Black in Spring; Black, Dark-purple in Summer; Dark-purple, Black in Autumn

How to care

Watch out for

Specific pests

Black-fly , Glasshouse red spider mite

Specific diseases

Verticillium wilt

General care


Pruning group 1. Group 7 if grown for foliage only. Will tolerate hard pruning to keep size in check.

Propagation methods

Hardwood cuttings, Softwood cuttings

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Where to grow

Suggested uses

Beds and borders, Coastal, Hedging/Screens, Low Maintenance, Wildlife, Woodland


Will tolerate most soils and aspects; ideally, grow in a moderately fertile, moist, well-drained soil in full sun. Will tolerate partial shade but will have best foliage colour in full sun. Suitable for use as a hedge.

Soil type

Chalky, Clay, Loamy, Sandy (will tolerate most soil types)

Soil drainage

Moist but well-drained, Well-drained

Soil pH

Acid, Alkaline, Neutral


Partial Shade, Full Sun


North, South, East, West


Exposed, Sheltered

UK hardiness Note: We are working to update our ratings. Thanks for your patience.

Hardy (H4)

USDA zones

Zone 8, Zone 7, Zone 6, Zone 5

Black Tower Elderberry

Black Tower Elderberry

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Black Tower Elderberry foliage

Black Tower Elderberry foliage

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Height: 8 feet

Spread: 4 feet


Hardiness Zone: 3b

Other Names: Common Elder


A wonderful color contrast shrub, with compound foliage that borders on true black, against which the soft pink flowers definitely stand out, a true garden accent; grows into a large columnar form that is great for screening

Ornamental Features

Black Tower Elderberry features showy clusters of fragrant shell pink flowers held atop the branches in early summer, which emerge from distinctive rose flower buds. It has attractive black foliage which emerges light green in spring. The serrated compound leaves are highly ornamental but do not develop any appreciable fall color. The black fruits are held in clusters in early fall.

Landscape Attributes

Black Tower Elderberry is a multi-stemmed deciduous shrub with a narrowly upright and columnar growth habit. Its relatively coarse texture can be used to stand it apart from other landscape plants with finer foliage.

This is a high maintenance shrub that will require regular care and upkeep, and is best pruned in late winter once the threat of extreme cold has passed. It is a good choice for attracting birds to your yard. Gardeners should be aware of the following characteristic(s) that may warrant special consideration;

  • Suckering

Black Tower Elderberry is recommended for the following landscape applications;

  • Accent
  • Mass Planting
  • Hedges/Screening
  • General Garden Use
  • Naturalizing And Woodland Gardens

Planting & Growing

Black Tower Elderberry will grow to be about 8 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 4 feet. It has a low canopy with a typical clearance of 1 foot from the ground, and is suitable for planting under power lines. It grows at a fast rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 30 years.

This shrub does best in full sun to partial shade. It is quite adaptable, prefering to grow in average to wet conditions, and will even tolerate some standing water. It is not particular as to soil type or pH. It is highly tolerant of urban pollution and will even thrive in inner city environments. This is a selected variety of a species not originally from North America.

Gertens Sizes and Prices

#5 container – $29.99
* Sizes and availability are subject to change. Please check with the store for specific details.

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