Sambucus nigra 'Black Lace' (also called elder 'Black Lace')
Hardy deciduous shrub or small tree, grown for finely divided dark purple leaves and large umbels of tiny pale pink flowers. The flowers are attractive to insects and the fruits provide food for birds. The plant is reputedly resistant to the predations of rabbits.
Flowers in early summer followed by hanging bunches of dark purple fruits in autumn.
Habit - fast growing, arching.
Stems - fairly straight. Old growth is buff coloured with rough bark, young growth is smooth and tinged with purple.
Leaves - deep purple, pinnate, with serrated edges.
Flowers and fruit - large flat heads of pink flowers held on dark purple stems, followed by drooping bunches of shiny, spherical, purple berries.
Any moderately fertile soil, moist but well-drained soil. Doesn't do well in drought conditions.
Can be left to get on with it, with just light pruning to maintain shape, or cut back hard in spring to restrict the size and keep the effect of the foliage. If pruning hard, carry it out in the same way as with Buddlejas, cutting back the stems back to about 20cm and then feeding - the plant will then grow very quickly and gain considerable height over the summer.
By softwood or hardwood cuttings in spring or late autumn.
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