Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Sambucus australasica (Lindl.) Fritsch

Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
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Flowers [not vouchered]. CC-BY J.L. Dowe
Leaf and flowers [not vouchered]. CC-BY J.L. Dowe
Leaves and fruit. © Australian Plant Image Index (APII). Photographer: A. Lyne.
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, epigeal germination. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO

Fritsch, K. in Engler, H.G.A. & Prantl, K.A.E. (1891) Die Naturlichen Pflanzenfamilien 4: 162.

Common name

Native Elderberry; Elderberry; Yellow Elderberry; Native Elders


Usually flowers and fruits as a shrub about 2-3 m tall.


Leaflet blades about 5 x 1-1.5 cm. Stipules, if present, about 2 mm long. Compound leaf rhachis and petiole grooved or channelled on the upper surface. Lateral veins curving but not forming distinct loops inside the leaflet blade margin. Twigs rather pithy. About 10-12 teeth on each side of the leaflet blade.


Each inflorescence consists of five main branches and contains numerous flowers. Flowers emit an unpleasant odour. Petals shortly fused at the base, about 3 mm long. Anther sacs almost separate from one another.


Fruits globose, about 6 mm diam. Calyx lobes persistent at the apex of the fruit. Seeds about three per fruit, each about 4 x 1 mm. Testa surface +/- rugose. Cotyledons about as wide as the radicle.


Cotyledons about 9-10 x 7 mm, apex apiculate or mucronate. First pair of leaves on long petioles, half as long as the leaf blades or longer. Leaf blade margins serrate. At the tenth leaf stage: leaflet margins conspicuously toothed. Crushed leaflets emit an obnoxious odour. Stipule-like leaflets present at the base of the compound leaf petiole, similar appendages also occur at the base of the first and second pairs of leaflets of the compound leaf. Tap root carrot-like (Daucus carota). Seed germination time 35 to 109 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Endemic to Australia, occurs in NEQ, CEQ and southwards as far south as Tasmania. Altitudinal range in NEQ from 800-1000 m. Grows in disturbed areas in well developed mountain rain forests.

Tripetelus australasicus Lindl., Three Expeditions into the interior of Eastern Australia 2: 14(1838), Type: (not cited). Sambucus xanthocarpa F.Muell., Definitions of rare or hitherto undescribed Australian plants : 9(1855), Type: On the shady moist banks of the Brodribb, Snowy and Cabbage Tree Rivers.
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