Our native common elderberry is now in bloom (Sambucus canadensis). This shrub is very durable and thrives in a wide range of habitats as witnessed now, while its huge flower heads give away just how common it is. It is everywhere- you can see it driving down most any rural road or interstate in a variety of conditions. This is such a great shrubs for the home landscape as well. It usually grows very rapidly and is very easy to manipulate. I have read of people treating it like a perennial and cutting it back to the ground every year. Of course, the berries are edible for us if you can beat the birds to them. Our straight native species can be difficult to find in popular nurseries. Most likely you will be directed to some novelty derivative of the European elderberry that has colored leaves, smaller stature, or some other undesirable feature (undesirable to me at least). You could say our elderberry is loud and proud. Don't settle for a novelty knock-off.
Before and After. The left is spring 2018, after a growing season in the ground. The elderberries were in 3 gallon pots and 30" tall. The right is summer 2019. These plants are now 8 feet tall after being in the ground for 2 growing seasons.