Will Elderberry cross pollinate with holly berry tree?

Asked April 8, 2016, 4:58 PM EDT

I recently ordered 2 elderberry plants so they could pollinate however at the location I want to plant my neighbor has 2 large holly berry trees/bushes my concern is that the elderberry would cross pollinate with the holly berry trees and make the elderberries poisonous to eat. Please advise if I should consider planting in another location away from the holly berry bushes if so how far?

Washington County Oregon

1 Response

You can relax. The elderberry and holly won’t cross-pollinate.

In order for two plants to cross-pollinate they must be from the same genus The good news is that elderberry and holly are from different genera: Holly is in the genus Ilex whereas elderberry is in the genus Sambucus.

So, please feel reassured you can plant your elderberries wherever you prefer as long as the site meets the plants’ requirements of full sun and well-drained soil. And lucky you! The best soil pH for elderberries is between 5.5 and 6.5 – the same range as in our native soil. See http://www.fruit.cornell.edu/mfruit/elderberries.html