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Viburnum L.

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassAsteridaeA large class that encompasses asters
OrderDipsacalesIncludes viburnum, honeysuckle, snowberry, beautybush, twinflower, many others
FamilyAdoxaceaeElders and viburnums
GenusViburnumLatin for “a kind of shrub”

About plant names...

Viburnums are found in North and South America, southeast Asia, and the Atlas Mountains of Africa. There are over 150 species. Previously, viburnums were classified as part of the honeysuckle (Caprifoliaceae) family. Based on the results of DNA sequencing, they have recently been re-classified as part of Adoxaceae, which also includes elders and several herbaceous plants.

Identification: Viburnums are robust shrubs, or occasionally small trees, usually with multiple stems and branches. Leaves are variously shaped, often with serrated edges and prominent veins. The flowerheads have flat tops. Many of these plants are hermaphrodites—the flowerheads contain both a ring of sterile, larger flowers as well as a central region composed of smaller, fertile flowers. Flowers are white, cream-colored, or pink, with five petals. The flowerheads become clusters of brightly colored berries.


Viburnum L.

Guelder rose (Viburnum opulus) · 9/13/2009 · Tom and Susan’s, Pepperell, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 9 × 6" (23 × 15 cm)

Some viburnums are compared below. See also this nicely done Viburnum species guide.

Viburnum acerifolium

Viburnum dentatum

Viburnum lantanoides
Common Name

maple-leaf viburnum


Plant Shrubs are 4-6' (1.2-1.8 m) tall and 3-4' (91-121 cm) around. Densely-branched shrub 6-10' (1.8-3 m) around. Irregular bush 6-12' (1.8-3.7 m) high.
Flowers White flowers are in ball-shaped, flat-topped, or spike-shaped clusters. Individual flowers are less than ¼" (6.3 mm) across. Cream-colored corymbs 1-4" (2.5-10 cm) across, with tiny flowers about ⅛" (3.2 mm) across. Flowerheads up to 5" (12 cm) across, with a central region with fertile ⅛" (3.2 mm) flowers edged with ¾" (1.9 cm) sterile white-to-pink flowers, each with five petals.
Leaves Leaves are dark green, three-lobed, 2-4" (5-10 cm) long, occurring in opposite pairs. Their maple-like leaf shape distinguishes this species from other viburnums. Often shiny, roughly oval, toothed, strongly textured and veined, somewhat rough to the touch, and 2-4½" (5-11 cm) long. Heart-shaped, prominently veined, 4-8" (10-20 cm) long, with serrated edges.
Stem     Bark is gray-brown and warty, later becoming furrowed.
Fruit Berries go from green to red to blue-purple to almost black in color; they are about ¼" (6.3 mm) around. Blue-black berries ¼" (6.3 mm) in diameter, in flattened clusters. Oval berry clusters are first red, ripening to black.
Range/ Zones

USDA Zones: 2-8

Habitats Floodplain forests, dry wooded slopes, mixed deciduous forests, talus slopes, rock outcrops, wooded ravines    
Type Wild Wild Wild


Viburnum lentago

Viburnum opulus

Viburnum plicatum var. tomentosum ‘Mariesii’
Common Name


Guelder rose

doublefile viburnum
Plant Large, often irregular shrub or small tree up to 30' (9 m) tall, but usually 12-15' (3.7-4.6 m). A shrub 13-16' (4-5 m) around. These shrubs are 8-10' (2.4-3 m) tall and usually somewhat wider than they are tall, and densely branched. Branches are distinctly layered.
Flowers Flowerheads are cream-colored, flat-topped, up to 5" (12 cm) in diameter. Flowerheads are 1½-4" (4-11 cm) around. Each head has an outer ring of sterile, white- or cream-colored flowers ½-¾" (1.5-2 cm) around, with five petals. Within this ring is a large number of very small, fertile flowers, also white, about ⅛" (5 mm) around. White, up to 4" (10 cm) in diameter, in the form of flat flowerheads, with an outer ring of infertile flowers about ½" (1.3 cm) around and an interior region filled with ⅛" (3.2 mm) fertile flowers.
Leaves 2½-4" (6.3-10 cm) long, medium- to dark green, shiny, roughly oval to elliptical in shape, with serrated edges. Three-lobed, coarse-veined, somewhat maple-like leaves 1¾-4" (5-10 cm) in size. Leaves have course serrations, and occur in opposing pairs. Roughly oval-shaped, rounded at the bottom and pointed at the top, 2-4" (5-10 cm) long and 1¼-2" (3.2-5 cm) wide, with serrated leaf edges. In the fall, leaves are dark reddish purple.
Stem If it has a single trunk, it is up to 10" (25 cm) in diameter. Multiple trunks are smaller.   Bark is gray-brown with orange lenticels.
Fruit Berries are light green to purple, red, and yellow; eventually to blue-black; often a mixture of several colors. Brilliant red when ripe, ⅛-¼" (3.2-6.3 mm) in diameter, round or somewhat oval. Egg-shaped, red, ripening to black.
Range/ Zones

USDA Zones: 2-8

USDA Zones: 3-8

USDA Zones: 5-8
Type Wild Wild Cultivar


Viburnum rafinesqueanum

Viburnum recognitum

Viburnum sieboldii
Common Name

downy arrowwood

southern arrowwood

Siebold viburnum
Plant This shrub is up to 6' (1.8 m) around. Large, multiple-stemmed shrub, 5-15' (1.5-4.6 m) tall. A shrub or small tree, 15-20' (4.6-6.1 m) high (rarely 30' (9.1 m)) and 10-15' (3-4.6 m) around. It is rounded but fairly sparse.
Flowers Cream-colored flowerheads are 3-4" (7.6-10 cm) across, with many small sterile 5-petaled flowers about ¼" (6.3 mm) across. Flat-topped flowerheads 4" (10 cm) across contain small white-to-pink flowers. Flowerheads have many tiny white blossoms.
Leaves Oval, wider and rounded at the bottom and pointed at the top, toothed, in opposite pairs. They have fuzzy undersides, and are attached by very short stems. In the fall, they are rose to maroon in color. Leaves grow in opposing pairs, with rounded or heart-shaped bottoms and pointed tips. They have large, sharp-pointed teeth, and are medium green and glossy, with prominent veins, up to 4" (10 cm) × 3" (7.6 cm). Leaves occur in opposing pairs, 2-6" (5-15 cm) × 1½-3" (3.8-7.6 cm), with serrated edges and prominent veins. Sometimes the leaves become red or purple in the fall.
Stem   Bark is gray and smooth. Branches are longer and less crooked than many viburnums.  
Fruit Clusters of pointed ovals, ⅜" (1 cm) × ⅛" (5 mm), ripening as black and shiny. ¼-½" (6.3-12 mm) across, light blue to blue-black. ½" (1.3 cm), pink, darkening to blue-black.
Range/ Zones

USDA Zones: 3-8

USDA Zones: 5-7
Habitats   Wet areas, along rivers  
Type Wild Wild Wild


Online References:


The Ohio State University Fact Sheet


Fine Gardening

Encyclopedia Brittanica


Viburnum description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 16 Sep 2020.

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