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Common Name

Blackhaw viburnum

Scientific Name

  Viburnum prunifolium, L. (Adoxaceae,  Dipsacales)

Inventory Numbers: 666

The Blackhaw viburnum (Viburnum prunifolium) is a species of viburnumnative to Easternpart of North America. It is a multi-stemmed, deciduous shrub and typically grows 12-15 feet tall with a spread of 6-12 feet. Non-fragrant white flowers in flat-topped cymes appear in spring. Ovate, finely toothed, glossy dark green leaves turn attractive shades of red and purple in fall. Fruits are edible and may be eaten off the bush when ripe or used in jams and preserves. Native Americansand American slaveholders used adecoctionof the Blackhaw to treat menstrual cramp and to prevent abortions. The wood is brown tinged with red, heavy hard close-grained.

Common name: Blackhaw Viburnum, Sweet Haw, Stag Bush

Species Native Origin: Connecticut to Florida, West Michigan and Texas

Habit: Deciduous shrub or small tree (7 – 30 feet tall); prefers sunny woodland with well-drained soil and adequate water.

Trunk/Stem: Short crooked trunk and stout spreading branches. Bark reddish brown rough on old stems. Branchlets red at first then green finally dark brown tinged with red.

Leaves: Simple, opposite, deciduous; 9 cm long 6 cm wide; reminiscent of Prunus leaf – broad, ovate, orbicular; wedge shaped or rounded at base; edges serrate; tip acute; petiole red 1.5 cm long becoming red in fall. Winter bud covered with rusty tomentum

Flowers: Flower buds ovate, 1 cm long larger than axillary buds. Flowers are creamy white; calyx is urn-shaped, five toothed persistent; the corolla contains five petals. The five stamens alternate with the petals, the filaments are slender, the anthers pale yellow oblong two celled and opening longitudinally. Ovary is inferior, one chamber with a thick pale green style and flat stigma and single ovule. Flowers borne in flat-topped cymes 10 cm diameter in med to late spring.

Fruits and seeds: Fruit is a drupe 1 cm long, ark blue to black with glaucous bloom. It hangs until winter becoming edible after a frost; the stone is flat and broadly oval.