Viburnum americanum (trilobum)

American cranberrybush
Sun/P.Shade/Shade 6' Height / 6' Spread
Price Code: 
$16.50/2 gal.(large)
Status: 
Sold Out

Viburnum opulus var. americanum (V. trilobum) (American cranberrybush, kalyna or highbush cranberry) is native to northern North America, from Newfoundland west to British Columbia, south to Washington state and east to northern Virginia. It is very closely related to the European and Asian Viburnum opulus, and is often treated as a variety of it, as Viburnum opulus L. var. americanum Ait., or as a subspeciesViburnum opulus subsp. trilobum (Marshall) Clausen. Regardless, the berries of our native subspecies are much, much more flavorful and tasty.

It is a deciduous shrub growing to 4 m tall. The bark is gray and rough and has a scaly texture. The stems arch and are very dense, and the twigs are a reddish-brown color. The leaves are opposite, three-lobed, 6-12 cm long and 5-10 cm broad, with a rounded base and serrated margins; they are superficially similar to many maple leaves, most easily distinguished by their somewhat wrinkled surface with impressed leaf venation. The leaf buds are green. The bud scales are valvate. The flowers are white, produced in corymbs up to 13 cm diameter at the top of the stems; each corymb comprises a ring of outer sterile flowers 2-2.5 cm diameter with conspicuous petals, surrounding a center of small (5 mm), fertile flowers; the flowers are pollinated by insects. The fruit is an oblong, beautiful red drupe 15 mm long and 12 mm broad, containing a single flat, white seed. Plants begin to produce fruit at approximately five years of age; when animals, including birds, eat the fruits, they deposit the seeds in another location in their droppings.

Although often called "highbush cranberry", it is not a cranberry. The name comes from the ruby-red fruits which look superficially like cranberries, and have a similar flavor and ripen at the same time of year. The fruits, sour and rich in vitamin C, can be eaten raw or cooked into a sauce to serve with meat or game. The European variety should not be planted, as it is invasive, and the berriies are described as bitter.

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