European Cranberrybush, European Cranberry Bush, or European Cranberrybush Viburnum
(Caprifoliaceae - Honeysuckle Family)
- medium-sized to large-sized ornamental shrub (cultivars are smaller)
- species form matures at about 10' tall by 10' wide, although sometimes larger
- upright oval growth habit in youth, becoming arching and spreading with age
- medium growth rate
- full sun to partial shade
- prefers moist, well-drained soils of average fertility in full sun, but is highly adaptable to permanently moist to wet soils, dry soils, poor soils, soils of various pH, heat, drought, and pollution
- propagated by rooted stem cuttings or seeds
- Honeysuckle Family, with several pest problems, namely black aphids and black ants (cosmetically unattractive, at the terminus of the new shoots) and borers (damaging to individual mature stems, often infesting them at the base of the shrub, and sometimes causing one or two branches to die per year on old plants); a disease (stem blight) may also occur, causing wilting and dieback of the terminal growth
- commonly available (mostly as four unique cultivars) in ball and burlap from
- medium to dark green, opposite, ovate, trilobed, and deeply incised, about 3" long and 3" wide, with acute apices and a truncate base
- concave glands are often present on the upper petiole, giving it a warty appearance upon close inspection
- overall shape resembles a trilobed Maple leaf, while fall color is often green then abscised, but may have tinges of purple or red
- white, in late May and early June, as flat-topped inflorescences to 3" in diameter, composed of an outer ring of white sterile flowers that open first, followed by the inner disc of creamy fertile flowers
- green globular immature fruits of Summer mature to pendulous clusters of bright cherry-red fruits in late August, persistent and attractive throughout Autumn, then shriveling and fading in Winter, and remaining into the following Spring as droopy raisins (if not consumed by wildlife, primarily the birds)
- stems are medium green and lightly grooved in Summer, maturing to a light tan in Winter, very stout and straight, sparsely branched when young, having Winter buds that are large, smooth, very shiny, and red-brown
- trunks are stout, upright, and straight when young, becoming slightly ridged, furrowing, and arching with maturity, with a few suckers with age that generally arise within the original clump of woody stems
- trilobed and deeply incised opposite foliage resembles that of a Maple, with an outer ring of sterile flowers that opens in late May before the central disk of creamy miniature fertile flowers bloom, which give rise to glossy fruits that mature to cherry red in late Summer, persisting throughout Autumn and into Winter, when they shrivel like raisins; stems are stout, straight, but become arching with age; several cutlivars exist that vary in flowers, fruits, or size
- European Cranberrybush is sometimes confused with American Cranberrybush (Viburnum trilobum), and differs primarily in the degree of leaf incision, which is virtually absent in the latter and its cultivars, and also in the warty glands on the upper petiole, which are convex and slightly stalked on the latter
- formal or informal hedge, border, entranceway, foundation, or specimen shrub, often in group plantings
- medium texture in foliage and bold texture when bare
- average density in foliage and open density when bare
- four cultivars with excellent attributes, namely:
- creamy-white flowers in late Spring and red berries in Autumn for 'Compactum'
- creamy-white flowers in late Spring and golden berries in Autumn for 'Xanthocarpum'
- ultra-showy, sterile snowball flowers in Spring for 'Roseum'
- attractive foliage on a facer shrub for 'Nanum'
- bird attraction in Winter (for the fruiting forms)
- urban tolerant
- aphid and ant infestation in late Spring and early Summer is unsightly on the new stem growth when viewed up-close, but is not harmful to the plant
- borers and/or blight will sometimes cause individual stems to die back all the way to the ground as the shrub reaches maturity
- habit can become large, open, and gangly with age, and in need of pruning for shaping or rejuvenation
- zones 3 to 8
- native to Eurasia and North Africa
- shrubs with showy red berries in Autumn and Winter (Aronia arbutifolia, Cotoneaster apiculatus, Ilex verticillata, Viburnum trilobum, etc.)
- shrubs with a combination of sterile and fertile flowers on the same inflorescence (Hydrangea species, Viburnum sargentii, Viburnum trilobum, etc.)
- Viburnum opulus 'Compactum' - the standard red-fruiting cultivar, being more compact (to 8' tall by 8' wide), densely flowering, and densely-fruited
- Viburnum opulus 'Nanum' - Dwarf European Cranberrybush - dwarf form slowly growing to 3' tall by 3' wide, densely foliaged with essentially no flowers or fruits; new leaves emerge red-bronzed and rapidly change to dark green, with incised margins that are more deeply sinuate, often used as a facer shrub or dwarf shrub where foliage is the primary consideration; can be easily controlled by rejuvenation pruning to the ground every other year, resulting in a more vigorous flush of Spring growth
- Viburnum opulus 'Roseum' (also known as 'Sterile') - sterile flowers have many showy bracts creating an overall spherical shape to the inflorescence, emerging light-green and changing to white, becoming pendulous with its weight, highly attractive as masses of globular inflorescences amongst the expanded foliage, and persistent into Summer as faded bracts; to 10' tall by 10' wide
- Viburnum opulus 'Xanthocarpum' - golden-fruited form to 8' tall by 8' wide, an excellent companion shrub to 'Compactum', especially when both occur as group plantings in relatively close proximity
- Viburnum trilobum - American Cranberrybush - its cultivars are sometimes considered superior to Viburnum opulus 'Compactum' above in terms of their abundant red fruits (they hold their color and turgor longer into Winter) and fall color (red-orange, red, or burgandy); its trilobed leaves are much less incised than Euoropean Cranberrybush, with sharply acuminate lobes; to zone 2 in cold hardiness, maturing at about 10' tall by 10' wide, but not performing well in moist to wet sites
- Viburnum is the classical Latin name for Wayfaringtree Viburnum.
- opulus is the Latin name for a type of Maple.
- European Cranberrybush Viburnum has four prominent cultivars that can give modern landscapes a diversity of growth habits, flowers, and fruits.
- Viburnum opulus is primarily known through its various cultivars, with the most common being 'Compactum', which has showy creamy-white inflorescences in Spring, red berries in late Summer and throughout Autumn, and bold texture with raisin-like fruits in Winter.
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