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All About the Golden Elderberry

When you hear the word “elderberry,” you may think of the syrup that some people rave about as an immunity booster. But have you ever thought of where it comes from?

Odds are you wouldn’t expect them to come from a shrub as pretty as the golden elderberry bush!

Full of bright yellow foliage and tons of little berries, this bush will add a bit of function and a lot of beauty to your yard. Read on to learn more about this berry, including how to grow your own.

Looking to buy a golden elderberry plant? Check availability.

golden elderberry

Characteristics of the Golden Elderberry


Golden elderberries grow on a bush full of lacy yellow leaves in a sunny spot. From far away, it looks like an exploding firework!

In shadier spots, the spindly leaves will take on a brighter green color instead of yellow.

Before the berries grow, tiny white flowers cover the bush. Later in the year, bright red berries replace the white flowers. That means, in spring and summer, there are beautiful contrasting colors all over the plant.

These plants grow quite large, averaging 6-8” tall and 6-8” wide!

Trim these shrubs to look like trees if you’re comfortable with heavy pruning. They’re especially pretty hanging over a garden bench.


If you’re looking for a tasty treat, looking elsewhere in your garden or yard is best.

Golden elderberries are notoriously tart and sour, sometimes even having an “astringent” taste. Cooking them does remove the astringent flavor, but you’ll still need a considerable amount of added sugar to make them tasty.

How to use the Golden Elderberry

A bowl of vanilla ice cream with elderberry syrup


First things first: Never eat elderberries raw. They can cause serious digestive discomfort if ingested before cooking.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, you can enjoy your elderberries in several ways inside your kitchen!

Remove the berries from their stems before getting started. Use either a wide-toothed comb or your fingers in a claw shape. Then double-check that all stems are removed as you’re rinsing them off under cold water.


Elderberries have long been used in baked goods such as pies, tarts, and muffins!

Many baking recipes call for a large number of elderberries, usually around four cups. If you don’t have enough elderberries, add dark berries like blueberries or blackberries to make up the difference.


Elderberry-infused vodka adds a sweet and tart tang to any fruity drink where you’d normally use regular vodka.

Elderberry tea is also a common way to enjoy these berries. Simply boil a few tablespoons of berries in a cup of water until the water has turned dark. Then, pour everything through a fine mesh strainer. Add a squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of honey, and drink up!

If you’ve got more elderberries than you know what to do and a long time before you’d like to enjoy them, you can also make your own Golden Elderberry wine! We’re talking about 9-15 pounds of berries and at least two years until it’s ready to enjoy.


Elderberry syrup has long been known for its immunity-boosting properties. Most at-home recipes call for pounds of berries, so you may have to save up ripe berries, but it would be worth it.

Health Benefits of Golden Elderberry

Nutritional Information

According to the USDA, 100g of raw elderberries contain the following nutritional properties:

  • Energy: 73Kcal
  • Water: 79.8 g
  • Protein: 0.66 g
  • Carbohydrate: 18.4 g
  • Fiber: 18.4 g
  • Calcium: 38 mg
  • Iron: 1.6 mg
  • Vitamin C: 36 mg
  • Potassium: 280 mg
  • Phosphorus: 39 mg

Additional Health Benefits

Both the flowers and the berries of the Golden Elderberry have been proven to help with diabetes. They stimulate the metabolism of glucose and encourage the production of insulin.

And while raw berries can bring digestive discomfort, prepared correctly, elderberries can act as a laxative to relieve constipation.

Growing Your Own Golden Elderberries

Foliage, buds and flowers of gold leaf European elderberry in June

Golden Elderberry plants are hearty, easy to grow, and make a big visual impact!

Planting Instructions

Most Golden Elderberry bushes will come bare-rooted, meaning it’s a dormant, established plant that is dug up, roots and all.

They must be planted in the fall before the ground hardens with the first frost.

Dig a hole at least six inches wider than the root ball and roughly the same depth. The plant’s crown should be slightly above the ground when the soil is added back.

Once you’ve spread the roots and added the soil, thoroughly water until the soil is settled in.

Water every 2-4 days for the first six weeks, then back it down to once weekly.


Pruning before or as soon as you plant is essential to help your Golden Elderberry plant not be stressed. Use pruning shears to trim back any broken or unhealthy branches.

Once the new plant has made it through its first winter, prune back any weakened branches in early spring.

Pests & Diseases

Golden Elderberry plants are susceptible to verticillium wilt. It’s a fungal disease that likes warm, dark places. A good preventative measure is to only water the plant at the base, near the roots. The leaves remain dry, hopefully keeping fungus at bay.

These plants are also favorites of aphids. They suck nutrients from the plant, causing discoloration and stunted growth. A natural predator of aphids is the ladybug. You can buy a bag of live ladybugs to release as chemical-free pest control!


Golden Elderberries are ready to harvest in the fall when entire clusters are a deep purplish-black color. Snap clusters off at the branch like tiny bunches of grapes. Then use a wide-toothed comb or your fingers to comb through each cluster to remove them from their stems.

Where to Buy Golden Elderberries

Golden Elderberry plants are available to purchase from Nature Hills.

Wrapping up the Golden Elderberry

Known best for its bright foliage and multi-purpose berries, the Golden Elderberry plant makes a great addition to any garden.

Plant a few along the back of your flower beds, and you’ll have a beautiful backdrop to the rest of your garden for years to come! Looking for more information? Check out our page, All About Elderberry Bushes!