Viburnum opulus var. americanum — Overview

American Cranberrybush Viburnum learn more about names for this taxon

IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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This is a shrub with multiple narrow trunks and ascending to slightly spreading branches. The bark of trunks and branches is gray, while twigs are brown and glabrous with white lenticels. Young non-woody shoots are green to reddish green and glabrous. Pairs of opposite leaves occur along the shoots and twigs. Individual leaves are 2-4" long and nearly as much across (oval in outline); they are palmately 3-lobed, and sparingly dentate to smooth along their margins. There are either a few large teeth or they are absent altogether. The shallow to moderately deep lobes have pointed tips, while the base of each leaf is rounded. The upper leaf surface is medium green and hairless, while the lower surface is pale green and either hairless or hairy along the veins. The slender petioles are ¾-1½" long, light green to red, and glabrous. Near the apex of each petiole where it joins the leaf, there are 1-2 pairs of tiny glands with rounded tops. These glands may become deformed or nearly disappear as the season progresses. At the base of each petiole, there is a pair of simple stipules; they are deciduous and insignificant. Some of the upper and outer shoots terminate in flat-headed panicles (cymes) of white flowers. Individual panicles span about 2-4" across; their branches are light green to red and glabrous. Along the outer margin of each panicle, there are several sterile flowers about ¾" across. Each sterile flower has 5 white spreading petals and a short tubular calyx that is 5-toothed and green. Within the interior of each panicle, there are many fertile flowers about ¼" across. Each fertile flower has 5 white spreading petals, a short tubular calyx that is 5-toothed and green, 5 stamens, and a pistil. The blooming period occurs during late spring to early summer and lasts about 3-4 weeks. The floral scent is unpleasant. The fertile flowers are replaced by one-seeded drupes that are about 1/3" across. They become bright red at maturity during late summer or early fall. Individual seeds are about 5 mm. across, nearly orbicular in shape, and flattened. The flesh of the drupes is tart. The root system is woody and branching. During autumn, the deciduous leaves become bright red.


Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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