Description from Flora of China
Shrubs, small trees, or perennial herbs, gynodioecious or hermaphroditic, deciduous, whole plant sometimes with extrafloral nectariferous glands. Branches smooth, striate, or warty, with stout pith. Leaves with or without stipules, imparipinnate, or incompletely bipinnate, rarely laciniate; leaflets serrate or divided, opposite or alternate. Inflorescences terminal, flat or convex corymbs or panicles, pedunculate or sessile. Flowers actinomorphic or sometimes dimorphic, sometimes with glandular nectaries, articulate with pedicel; bracts mostly absent; bracteoles 1 or absent. Calyx tube: limb 3-5-parted; corolla rotate, white, lobes 3-5. Stamens 5, inserted at base of corolla; filaments erect, filiform; anthers 2-celled, oblong, cells free, attached at middle. Ovary locules 3-5, ovules 1 per locule; style cushionlike; stigmas 3 or 5. Fruit berrylike, 3-5-seeded; seeds triquetrous or ellipsoid; embryo ca. as long as seed.
See Bolli, Diss. Bot. 223: 1-227. 1994; Eriksson and Donoghue, Syst. Bot. 22: 555-573. 1997.
Sambucus nigra Linnaeus (Sp. Pl. 1: 269. 1753) is occasionally cultivated in China.
In some species, the vegetative parts of the plant when bruised and the flowers have a fetid odor.
About ten species: temperate to subtropical regions and tropical mountains; four species (one endemic) in China.
(Authors: Yang Qiner (杨亲二); David E. Boufford)