Simply The Best-December


If I could only have one genus of plants (please, never let That be the rule!), It would probably be Viburnum . ~ Margaret Roach

I could not agree more with Margaret. Viburnums are one of the most versatile shrubs for your garden. Of course they are very attractive in the garden also For Their foliage, flowers and later the berries That feed the critters. So what better shrub native to highlight for my last installment of  Simply The Best 2012  than viburnum. I’ll be linking in with  Dozen for DianaElephant’s Eye , and with Gail @ Clay and Limestone  for her  Wildflower Wednesday .

flowers forming

I grow both Viburnum dentatum ( Southern arrowwood) and  Viburnum opulus var. americanum  (American cranberry bush). Viburnums are part of the Caprifoliaceae or honeysuckle family . Many can grow quite tall to 12 feet. My  Viburnum dentatum  is cultivar, “Blue Muffin”. It is a tall, slender, deciduous bush topping out at only 6 feet and 4 feet wide at this point. It may be a bit smaller Because it is in a dry area. If it was for them to more moist spot, it would probably grow a bit taller and wider.

One of the best aspects of a viburnum are the flowers. They grow in clusters all over the bush in late spring Although they are not very fragrant. The flowers are hermaphrodite (having Both male and female organs) and are pollinated by insects. And boy do the pollinators go crazy for them. Many viburnum flower on old wood so it is best to prune them after they flower. But if you do you will sacrifice the berries.

IMG_9761And the berries are the second best part of a viburnum. The birds go crazy and strip my bushes in nothing flat in late summer.   Viburnum dentatum has gorgeous dark blue / purple berries That Are not edible to humans.

The third wonderful aspect of viburnum is the thick dark green foliage. I love its heart shape with serrated edges found on Viburnum dentatum leaves. They make a great back drop for the white flowers and then later in the fall they blaze with yellow, red and oranges. Other viburnum have heart shaped leaves but they may not be serrated.

Viburnum are easy to grow in zones 2-8 especially if you have a moist woodsy area. They will take sun to shade and many different soil types including my wet or dry clay. Deer, disease or insects usually I I do not bother them Although rabbits will eat the smaller less mature bushes in winter. And there is the viburnum leaf beetle (a non-native pest) Which can “skeletonize” the bushes Although I have not see this pest in my garden yet.

To propagate viburnum you can grow from seed but germination is slow. It is easier to take cuttings That can be planted out a year later. They say viburnum will sucker at the base, but I have not had this with my bushes and some are 5 years old.


Blue Muffin in early spring


Viburnum is a genus of about 150-175 species of shrubs. Most are native Throughout the Northern Hemisphere. A few species can be found in the tropical regions of South America, Russia and southeast Asia. In Africa, viburnum can be found only in the Atlas Mountains.

Viburnum dentatum is native to the eastern US from Ontario down to Florida and west to the Mississippi River down to Texas.




American cranberry bush in fall

Viburnum dentatum’s  common name,  arrowwood Southern , comes from the Native Americans who used the straight stems for arrow shafts.

The name Viburnum  dentatum  comes from: Viburnum  the classical Latin name for the Wayfaringtree Viburnum, and  dentatum  meaning “toothed”, Which Refers to the leaves.

Viburnum opulus var. americanum (seen left) is also known as  American cranberry bush, highbush-cranberry, American Cranberrybush viburnum, cranberry viburnum.




The berries of viburnum are loved by small mammals, Eastern Bluebirds, Northern Flickers, Gray Catbirds, and American Robins. Butterflies are robins eating berriesAttracted the nectar especially the Spring Azure Which uses the  Viburnum  dentatum  as a larval host. I have not seen These little beauties, but plan to keep a sharp look out for them in spring.

Some viburnums have edible berries. For instance, the berries of  V. lentago  are edible and can be eaten raw or made into jam, while  V. opulus cranberry-like  berries are mildly toxic and can cause vomiting if eaten in large quantities.

Viburnums make a great foundation plant or hedge. I use mine on the border as a focal point in the border just off the patio to soften the edge and Shops Shops provide a bit of a screen. I love their sleek tall bones in winter. If you want a shrub That transplants easily into a difficult site, this is your shrub.




Blue muffins in fallViburnum Has Been Used by Native Americans as a birthing aid. They made a poultice from the plant, and applied it to the swollen legs of a woman after she has given birth.

Twigs were boiled to make a decoction That was used by native women to prevent conception.

Γ–tzi the Iceman found in the Alps in 1991 had arrow-shafts made from wood viburnum.

In herbal medicine, the bark of some viburnum is used to treat asthma and spasms.



Language of Flowers

Viburnum is a symbol of a delicate and continuous friendship Which is said to die if neglected.


 Blue Muffin in bloom

Wonderful Viburnum

Branches covered in snowy white,

Red and blue berries later delight.

Thick scarlet leaves escape from my sight,

Return to bright green in the spring’s sunlight.

Donna Donabella


Check out other posts in the series,  Simply the Best:


November- Cattails

October- Helianthus

September- Asclepias

August- Clethra alnifolia

July- Liatris spicata

June- Baptisia australis

May- Goat’s beard

April- Lupine

March- Trillium

February- Trout Lily

January- Hepatica


Next up on the blog:   Monday is New Year’s Eve and I will have a post about My New Journey and what is in store on the blog in 2013.

I will be linking in with Michelle @ Rambling Woods  for her  Nature Notes  meme. It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Wednesday.

As always, I’ll be joining  Tootsie Time’s  Fertilizer Friday .

I hope you will join me for my posts once a month on the, at  Beautiful Wildlife Garden . See my current post now.

Please remember, to comment click on the title of the post and the page will reload with the comments section.

All original content is copyrighted and the property of the sun Woman Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2012. Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.

49 Replies to “Simply The Best-December”

  1. I could hardly believe my eyes when I read that Viburnum would be your chioce if you could have only one genus. For years I’ve said that if I could hold a National collection it would be Viburnum. I love them for their form, very different habits but most of all for their perfume. How nice to discover you are such a soul mate! Christina

    1. I knew we must be Christina…I have a few very small plants that I can’t wait to see growing to their full height with lovely flowers and chock full of berries….Happy New Year Christina!!

  2. I love all the Viburnum and use the freely in design work for all the reasons you mentioned. They are very hardy and live in a variety of locations. I too have one planted in dry conditions. They are great used as hedges also.

    1. I have them growing in key positions as a hedge along the fence to deter the deer from jumping (of course once they reach full height) πŸ™‚

  3. I don’t often see them in gardens here, but in the hedgerows we have plenty of Viburnum opulus – you’re right – they offer so much all year round, with huge white balls of flowers, red and almost black berries, and lovely autumn foliage. Your poem sums it up perfectly! My mother (in the UK) has a beautiful early-flowering one, with pinkish flowers that smell gorgeous, but there is a leathery-leafed evergreen one, often in parks here, which smells quite foul. I think that is what has put me off having one in my garden before now!

    1. I have found the flowers are different depending on the variety…my native ones are not as perfumed but not foul smelling either…the key must be to find one with a lovely fragrance!

  4. Viburnum opulus grows on the property where I live, and I especially love when they flower. They are a great, hardy shrub for our extremely cold climate but for some reason they are often overlooked as ornamentals here…really, too bad!

  5. Seasons greetings Donna – I would add a fourth aspect, the pink buds before the flowers. Useful to know that I’m equipped to make arrows if required.

    1. I thought you would enjoy that bit if one were an archer. πŸ™‚ Do you know what species has the lovely fragrant pink flowers? You are the second to say that about viburnums in the UK.

  6. I’m very under-educated about vibernums. I’ve never grown them and, for all they are mentioned a lot in blogs, wouldn’t recognise one in real life.

    The top picture shows the flowers to be very pretty – though my myth of the plant is that it’s a bit of a thug.

  7. Hi Donna, I grow Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn.’ I’ve tried a few others with no luck. I think it’s because the soil gets too dry during our long, rain-less summers. ‘Dawn’ should start blooming soon. Usually on a leafless shrub but we’ve had such a mild winter so far, (knock on wood) that the shrub still has leaves. Great post.

    1. How interesting and glad you found one for your conditions. Love to see pictures of it in flower…nice to see flowers in winter πŸ™‚

  8. Hi Donna! Hope you had a nice Christmas. I admire the beautiful berries on Viburnum ‘Blue Muffin.’ I’d like to have one, but I am running out of room in my gardens. May 2013 bring you joy, peace, love, faith, hope, and good health! Beth

    1. The beauty of Blue Muffin is you can keep it trimmed and I think there are others that are even more compact…worth finding a bit of space…my Christmas was peaceful…wishing you a most joyous and wonderful New Year Beth!

    1. Alas no Diana… the viburnum berries resemble the cranberries which is maybe why it is labeled as a cranberry perhaps…but the cranberry we eat is a low growing shrub of the genus Vaccinium and are related to bilberries, blueberries, and huckleberries. I hope you will be continuing the Dozen meme for next year as I have already set my idea of what I will be highlighting…Happy New Year!

  9. I have only planted one Viburnum so far, the cranberry, but I am in love. It has grown remarkably fast and has already flowered. Its fall color is very attractive and I am sure this small tree/shrub will grow even more beautiful with time. I am hoping I won’t have any trouble with the Viburnum leaf beetle. If I do I will resort to a non-native Viburnum – but I’m sure birds will still appreciate the berries, and the butterflies the flowers. I would love to grow an Arrowhead but they are extremely susceptible to the beetle – perhaps the ‘Blue Muffin’ cultivar is less susceptible? What a great read about Viburnums!

    1. I think it must be less susceptible Kathy as I have not seen the beetles…But I grow a few others varieties too just in case. There are so many native ones to choose from. I have a compact cranberry variety and I adore the leaves in fall.

  10. Well, after reading Margaret’s quote, and your agreement with her, I realize that I am missing out. I don’t have one viburnum in my garden, although I admire them in others. Something to put on my “must acquire” list! πŸ™‚

  11. Ciao Donna! I’ve seen the ‘blue muffin’ cultivar in a nearby nursery a few weeks ago, it was covered in blue berries and I loved it. I planned to go back and see it in spring but now that I read your post I guess I NEED that viburnum! I shall go and get it ASAP!
    When do you take cuttings? How do you do?

  12. Lovely shrub and so versatile. I like the poem, too. Thank you for all your inspiring posts this year. Looking forward to another year following you. Happy New Year! πŸ™‚

  13. Definitely a romantic favorite, Donna! I so enjoy these posts with background information and symbolism. I hope you’re not too snowbound–although I’m sure you’re used to it after all these years. πŸ˜‰

    1. Oh yes we are used to it but it wears thin as I get older….hate driving in the storms. I hope to continue these posts in a couple of different formats this year.

  14. I, too, love viburnums. I planted a non-native variety so I get lovely flowers in late spring, but no fruit. It is sterile. Thank goodness I have some native viburnum growing near the wetland so there is fruit for wildlife and I can enjoy the flowers.

    1. To see the birds go mad over the berries is such a delight which is why I planted some viburnum ….I bet your wetlands are such a delight for you and the wildlife…I love seeing pictures of your wetlands!

    1. I only wish ours bloomed in December fragrant…but looking at them in pictures brings me a smile of remembrance until late spring…Happy New Year Laura…I do enjoy your visits!!

  15. No viburnums growing here in my gardens but I enjoyed all the info you provided about them. Like a few of the others … I’m just plain old out of room for them. Wishing you a joyous and prosperous New Year, Donna. Hugs from Austin πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks Cat. Here’s to a wonderful year around the gardening world and to you and your family I wish you a very blessed, Happy New Year!!

  16. I don’t have V. dentatum but I do have V. tinus, V. x burkwoodii, V. carlcephalum, and an unknown Viburnum –listed as Japanese snowball. All are such super shrubs. Would add many more at the drop of a hat.

    1. Thank you Frances. I plan to do a few more posts on wildflowers I love this coming year as time allows, but will be focusing my Simply the Best series on herbs in 2013. It will have similar features with a few added surprises.

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