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.

Ötzi 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.

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