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Viburnum opulus subsp. trilobum - American cranberrybush

The American cranberrybush is from the northern parts of North America. It can be found from the Atlantic seaboard almost across to the Pacific, usually as one of the shrubs under the deciduous forest canopy, where it grows somewhat straggly due to lack of light. In sunnier spots it grows erect and dense.

The European cranberrybush, (V. opulus subsp. opulus) is closely related to the American, which Europeans often consider to be a subspecies (V. opulus subsp. trilobum) of the European species. In America, however, they are considered separate species, and several large-berried varieties have been developed there for fruit production.

American cranberrybush produces the abundant cream-coloured flowers typical of the viburnums, the outer ring of sterile flowers attracting insects. The fruits are yellowish berries which ripen in autumn to glowing red. The foliage also turns red in autumn. Given these characteristics and the edibility of the berries, the Americans themselves consider their native species superior to the European.


Viburnum sargentii - cramp bark, Sargent viburnum

The Sargent viburnum is a close relative of the native Finnish species Guelder rose, also called European cranberrybush (V. opulus), and is sometimes regarded as its subspecies. The Sargent viburnum is an eastern species whose range stretches from the islands of Japan to Sakhalin, Korea, eastern parts of China, and Russia.

It differs from the Guelder rose in shape of leaf, darker stem, and flowers. The sterile flowers of the outer ring can be up to 3 cms in diameter. Its requirements regarding growing sites are very like those of the Guelder rose and in the wild it favours fertile soils and moist shady forests. Flowering in garden conditions requires soil that remains moist even in summer, and plenty of sun.


Viburnum rafinesquianum - downy arrow wood

Downy arrow wood resembles in appearance another American viburnum, the southern arrow wood (V. dentatum), both being useful, hardy shrubs. The downy arrow wood’s long leaves are toothed at the edges, with wine-red autumn colour.

The white flowering occurs in June, as with most viburnums. The berries ripen early to black but are not particularly showy. This species could be used more generally in view of its hardiness and moderate size.

The viburnum leaf beetle (Pyrrhalta viburni) can reduce the leaves of this species, like those of the guelder rose (V. opulus), to a lacy net. This pest is especially troublesome when the shrubs are planted in spots that are too warm and dry.


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