Marge': A European Elderberry for North American Producers


Elderberries are being increasingly produced and consumed in North America for their edible and medicinal flowers and fruits. The American elderberry (Sambucus nigra subsp. canadensis) is native to, and most often cultivated in North America. The European elderberry (S. nigra subsp. nigra) has been developed into an economically-important horticultural crop in Europe, but most European cultivars do not perform well in the midwestern USA. The genotype S. nigra subsp. nigra "˜Marge' is an open-pollinated seedling of S. nigra subsp. nigra "˜Haschberg', which is one of the most popular elderberry cultivars grown in Europe. In a four-year study (one establishment year followed by 3 production years; 2008"“2011) at three Missouri (USA) locations, "˜Marge' significantly out-performed and out-yielded eight American elderberry genotypes within the same replicated field plots. Across 3 production years at all three sites, "˜Marge' achieved budbreak later, flowered earlier, suffered less Eriophyid mite damage, was taller, produced larger berries, and yielded significantly greater amounts of fruit compared with all eight American elderberry genotypes in the study. At one site, "˜Marge' produced three times the yield (1.89 kg/plant) compared with the next highest-producing American elderberry genotype (0.65 kg/plant). It is an exceptionally robust and drought-resistant elderberry. The phenotypic attributes of "˜Marge' are similar to that of European elderberry except that it performs exceptionally well in the midwestern USA. DNA marker results, along with phenological and morphological characteristics, indicate that "˜Marge' is a European elderberry (S. nigra subsp. nigra). As with most European genotypes, "˜Marge' does not fruit on first-year wood, and will therefore require a different pruning regimen compared with American elderberry for success in North American production. We do not yet know how "˜Marge' will perform outside the midwestern USA, but it is so productive, unique, and mite resistant, that it merits introduction as a cultivar.


Environmental Plant Science and Natural Resources

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Acta horticulturae