Viburnum Prunifolium

Go wild with a native viburnum that’s a big hit for inviting wildlife to a garden.

By: Julie A Martens

Give your yard a dose of native beauty with a viburnum that’s versatile and easy growing. Viburnum prunifolium comes on strong in every season with interest that’s tough to beat. Spring flowers, berries that linger from summer into winter and colorful fall foliage make Viburnum prunifolium a top choice for any landscape.

Viburnum prunifolium works well in a wildlife garden or naturalized setting, such as a woodland or park. It’s also a terrific choice for an entry garden or streetside planting due to its high tolerance of urban conditions, including air pollution. This viburnum also makes a nice informal hedge if you place plants closer together. Viburnum prunifolium has a densely twiggy interior, a nice attribute for a hedging plant.

If you see an unpruned Viburnum prunifolium, you’ll notice that it branches low to the ground. With this growth pattern, it tends to form thickets if left to its own devices. A few well-placed pruning cuts can tame this pattern into a single trunked small tree or even a multi-trunked shrub or small tree. You can also purchase plants already pruned to offer these forms.

The common name for Viburnum prunifolium is blackhaw or blackhaw viburnum. The term black derives from the color of the oldest bark on the tree. The “haw” is a nod to the way that Viburnum prunifolium resembles hawthorn. The densely twiggy growth, shorter stature and lingering berries echo hawthorn growth. Unlike hawthorn, Viburnum prunifolium lacks thorns, which is a boon to any landscape it graces.

If you want to make your yard an open invitation to wildlife, include Viburnum prunifolium in your landscape plan. The white flowers lure in pollinating insects by the dozen, including bees, beneficial insects and butterflies. The dense twiggy growth provides ideal sheltering spots for birds where they can preen, rest or nest. Ripe berries are a must for fruit eating birds, like cedar waxwings, mockingbirds and robins. The berries are also edible and tasty in jams or juiced.

Viburnum prunifolium is hardy in Zones 3 to 9. It’s native from New York, south to Georgia, and west to Wisconsin, Kansas and Texas. The tree adapts to a variety of lighting conditions, from full sun to part shade. This viburnum grows in dry to medium moist soil. Plants tolerate drought and clay soil.

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