Elderberry - Black Beauty
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Black Beauty Elderberries.
Sambucus nigra
Elderberry - Black Beauty

Uses: Fruit, Flowers
Acquired: 2006
How started:
Source: Swanson's Nursery, Seattle, WA

Developed by plant breeders Ken Tobutt and Jacqui Prevette at the Horticulture Development Council's East Malling Research Station in England. The breeding program was commissioned by the British nursery stock industry to develop an elderberry with dark-purple foliage. They worked on this effort for 12 years before releasing the selection called Gerda. This is a patented variety that is marketed under the tradename Black Beauty. The very dark, almost black foliage that does not fade in summer, and may even get darker as the season progresses. It has lightly pink tinged flowers that are lemon-scented, a first for elderberry. Other cultivars of S. nigra have an indifferent scent or none at all. The flowers are edible and are used for beverages. The immature fruit is green purple in color. The mature berries are both red and black. The fruit of course is also edible after cooking.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has these notes on the development of Gerda [1]. Gerda originated from an initial cross pollination made by the breeders between the variety 'Fastigiata' and the variety 'Guincho Purple'. The progeny from this cross were then cross pollinated in June 1993. Seedlings progeny from the second cross were planted in February 1994. The new Sambucus variety was selected by the breeder as a single plant within a population of progeny resulting from this cross in a controlled environment in July 1997. Asexual reproduction of 'Gerda' has been conducted using softwood cuttings since 1997.

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