The American elderberry grows primarily east of the Rocky Mountains in North America, and through eastern Mexico and Central America to Panama. Other elderberry varieties grow mostly in temperate to subtropical regions of the Northern Hemisphere. They grow in forests, moist woods, fields and bogs, and along roadsides and ditches.
Some limited varieties of elderberries grow in parts of Australia, New Zealand and New Guinea, as well as South America. The fruit is dark purple to black, with the berry approximately 1/8 inch in diameter. The berries drop in clusters in the fall and are edible when picked ripe and cooked. Most uncooked berries and other parts of the plant are poisonous.