Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis 'Aurea'
moderate to low
8 to 12 ft.
8 to 12 ft.
mostly eastern and mid-western US, but occurs in a few counties in CO.
sun to light shade
USDA zones 3-9
hardy to 8,000 ft.
Golden elder is a large, rounded shrub that produces fragrant, white flower clusters in June. Large clusters of small, edible, purplish-black fruit appear in late summer. It gets its name from its yellowish-green leaves.
If you have space for a large, leafy shrub, golden elder can be a great choice for attracting native birds and insects. It's also a good option for adding edible plants to a landscape, as the berries can be used in pies, jellies, syrups, or as dried fruit.
Since it tolerates some shade, golden elder can be planted on the side of a house or in the shade of a deciduous tree.
Although golden elder grows naturally in moist, riparian areas and bottomlands, it has grown surprisingly well in low water conditions around the Colorado Springs area. It seems to tolerate infrequent but regular watering.
Be sure to plant it away from surfaces that can stain easily, since the berries have a dark colored-juice that has been used as a dye.
As this plant matures, it will become an erect, thicket-forming large shrub. To maintain an attractive appearance, prune out any dead branches and thin as needed.