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Viburnum opulus - guelder rose, or European cranberry bush


In 1753 when Linné gave this shrub the specific name opulus it was a reference to the field or hedge maple (Acer campestre), called by the Romans Opulus, which Guelder rose resembles in some ways, for example in the three-lobed leaves. Guelder rose grows naturally in Finland in rich mires and along streams.

Normally it reaches about 2m in height, with grey angular stems. The flower heads are made up of an outer ring of large showy white but sterile flowers, whose purpose is to attract pollinating insects to the fertile flowers in the centre. In autumn the leaves turn an attractive reddish. Formerly the species was considered poisonous but according to current opinion the red berries are not particularly poisonous, though they taste unpleasant. Occasionally the yellow-berried form (V. opulus f. xanthocarpum) can be found in gardens.

Guelder rose has beautiful flowers and fruit. Both flowers and fruit are most abundant in full sun, but then lots of moisture is necessary. In recent years the species has been troubled in places by the viburnum leaf beetle (Pyrrhalta viburni).


Viburnum lentago - nannyberry, sheepberry, sweet viburnum


Nannyberry is an erect deciduous shrub which can grow into a small tree of about 6m in its native habitat. Two different provenances from Arboretum expeditions have been planted at Mustila, one developing tree-like form, the other remaining low and shrubby.

The oval, toothed leaves are shiny above and turn a beautiful orange-red in autumn. The mildly-scented white flowers appear in June, later producing berries which change from their first greenish through a variety of shades to blue-black. They are eaten by birds and can also be used by humans, hence one of the common names, sweet viburnum.

Nannyberry is one of the northernmost of the viburnums in North America, stretching well into Canada. In Finland it grows successfully at least into the Finnish zone IV, and probably further north. It is both attractive and adaptable to a variety of sites.


Viburnum lantana - wayfaring tree


If you need a fairly tall flowering shrub for a rather dry spot, the wayfaring tree is a good choice. The leaves and dense habit reduce noise, it is resistant to wind and pollution, and needs little attention, making it ideal for many landscaping situations. There are also yellow-leaved (e.g. ‘Aureum’) and variegated varieties on the market.

The wayfaring tree flowers yellowish-white in June, and the unpleasant scent is often mentioned. In autumn the shrub is covered with red berries which change to black as they ripen. Sometimes there may be flowers with red and black berries at the same time. The berries are not edible. The leaves pass through shades of greenish-red to wine-red before falling.

The dense sturdy specimens at Mustila have thrived for decades. They grow on Etelärinne (Southern Slope) and at the gate to Mustila Manor.


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