Roadside Plants That Look Like European Elder?

Q: I fell in love with the fragrant flowers and berries of the European elder when I lived in Ireland. I see something that looks similar growing along roadsides here. I’m thinking it is Sambucus canadensis, but the flowers have no smell. Is Sambucus nigra what I’m looking for? 

A: It is not clear that Sambucus nigra and Sambucus canadensis are different species. Taxonomists say that one could be a sub-species of the other. It is my understanding that flowers within the species may vary in fragrance. I had delicious elderberry tea when in England. The flowers that were steeped in hot water there looked identical to the elderberries I see along roadsides here. Consider stopping to smell the flowers of patches of elderberry you spot. There are usually lots of small shoots nearby that you can transplant to your landscape.

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