A picture of a Golden Elder

Golden Elder

Sambucus nigra 'Aurea'

Also known as


Full Sun
Moderate care
Light watering
Frost Hardy


RHS hardiness


Minimum temperature

Expected size








20 years to reach maturity


  • spring
  • summer
  • autumn
  • winter

Flowers can be collected in Spring, best collected early in the day before the flowers buds open fully. Berries can be collected in Autumn,

Golden Elder Overview

A large native that is one of the most reliable golden foliage shrubs. Elder is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word 'Aeld', meaning fire, probably developed because the centre of elder stems was used as tinder to start fire, while the hollow stems of young branches were used as bellows to blow air into a fire. Its easy propagation and resistance to pests explains the popularity of Elders with gardeners. When planting out, select the location with care as Elders omit a long lasting hormone preventing any others from growing in the same spot.

Common problems with Golden Elder

Can be susceptible to verticillium wilt.

How to propagate Golden Elder


Take semi-ripe cuttings in the summer or early autumn. The cutting should have a woody base but soft top growth. Cut just below a leaf node and aim for a cutting of about 10cm long. Remove the lower leaves and leave only about 4 leaves on the cutting. If these are large leaves cut them in half so that the cutting doesn't lose too much water. Dip the cutting in rooting compost and push gently into a pot of cuttings compost of planting compost mixed 50:50 with sand or perlite. Cover the pots with a plastic bag and place in a sheltered, sunny position. Keep the compost moist. Once they show signs of growth you can remove the plastic bag and keep the cuttings out of frost. They should be ready for planting out the following spring.


Special features of Golden Elder

Attractive flowers

Attractive fruits

Attracts bees

Attracts butterflies

Attracts useful insects

Other uses of Golden Elder

This low maintenance plant can be grown as a specimen in small gardens or as hedges/screens in larger or wildlife friendly gardens.