General: Honeysuckle family (Caprifoliaceae). Native shrubs 0.5-2 m high, rhizomatous and forming
thickets; twigs pubescent. Leaves deciduous, ovate or orbicular, mostly deeply 3-lobed, 5-12 cm broad, coarsely toothed, lower surface minutely black-dotted, nearly glabrous to thinly pubescent with stellate hairs. Flowers white, bisexual, 4-6 mm wide, in upright, flat-topped clusters 4-7 cm wide. Fruit berry-like (drupes), 6-8 mm long, nearly black, with a single stone.
Variation within the species:
No varieties are currently formally recognized within V. acerifolium – previous named varieties within the species have described vaguely discernible and widely overlapping geographic trends of morphological variation.
V. acerifolium var. acerifolium
V. acerifolium var. densiflorum (Chapm.) McAtee
V. acerifolium var. glabrescens Rehd.
V. acerifolium var. ovatum (Rehd.) McAtee
Distribution: Widely distributed in eastern North America, New Brunswick (rare), Quebec, and Ontario south through Wisconsin, Illinois, and Arkansas to Florida and eastward into east Texas. For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.
Dockmackie, guelder-rose, maple-leaved arrow-wood, possum-haw, squash-berry
Range and Habitat in Illinois
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Regularity: Regularly occurring
eastern Texas, and east to the northern panhandle of Florida [5,9,24].
Occurrence in North America
LA ME MD MI MN MS MO NE NJ NY
NC OH OK PA RI SC TN TX VA WV
WI ON PQ
Maple-leaf viburnum occurs in upland forests, hillsides, and ravine slopes. It grows best in well-drained, moist soils and is tolerant of acid soils. It requires partial shading for optimum growth and development and occurs primarily in mid- to late-seral communities. It is a common understory species in beech-maple forests in the northeastern and midwestern United States; along the Gulf coastal plain, it is found in rich deciduous woods, often with white oak. Flowering May-August; fruiting July-October.
Mapleleaf viburnum is a large, deciduous, rhizomatous shrub from 3 to 6
feet (1-2 m) tall [11,24]. It has a straight trunk with spreading,
ascending branches, and forms dense thickets. The maple-like leaves
are 3 to 5 inches (7.5-12.5 cm) long. The flowers are arranged in flat
upright clusters. The fruit is a one-seeded drupe [4,10].
Range and Habitat in Illinois
Key Plant Community Associations
Mapleleaf viburnun is a dominant or codominant understory species in
many beech-maple (Fagus-Acer) forests in the northeastern and midwestern
United States [6,17,25].
Habitat: Plant Associations
This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):
K093 Great Lakes spruce - fir forest
K095 Great Lakes pine forest
K096 Northeastern spruce - fir forest
K097 Southeastern spruce - fir forest
K099 Maple - basswood forest
K100 Oak - hickory forest
K101 Elm - ash forest
K102 Beech - maple forest
K103 Mixed mesophytic forest
K104 Appalachian oak forest
K106 Northern hardwoods
K107 Northern hardwoods - fir forest
K108 Northern hardwoods - spruce forest
K111 Oak - hickory - pine forest
K112 Southern mixed forest
and hillsides [12,15,21]. It occurs in well-drained, moist soils and is
particularly tolerant of acid soils [4,9].
Common understory associates of mapleleaf viburnum include witchhazel
(Hamamelis virginiana), mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia), eastern
hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana), low sweet blueberry (Vaccinium
angustifolium), Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia),
sassafras (Sassafras albidum), and striped maple (Acer pensylvanicum)
This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):
FRES10 White - red - jack pine
FRES11 Spruce - fir
FRES13 Loblolly - shortleaf pine
FRES14 Oak - pine
FRES15 Oak - hickory
FRES17 Elm - ash - cottonwood
FRES18 Maple - beech - birch
FRES19 Aspen - birch
Habitat: Cover Types
This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):
5 Balsam fir
14 Northern pin oak
15 Red pine
17 Pin cherry
20 White pine - northern red oak - red maple
21 Eastern white pine
22 White pine - hemlock
23 Eastern hemlock
25 Sugar maple - beech - yellow birch
26 Sugar maple - basswood
27 Sugar maple
28 Black cherry - maple
30 Red spruce - yellow birch
31 Red spruce - sugar maple - beech
32 Red spruce
33 Red spruce - balsam fir
34 Red spruce - Fraser fir
35 Paper birch - red spruce - balsam fir
39 Black ash - American elm - red maple
42 Bur oak
43 Bear oak
44 Chestnut oak
46 Eastern redcedar
58 Yellow-poplar - eastern hemlock
59 Yellow-poplar - white oak - northern red oak
60 Beech - sugar maple
62 Silver maple - American elm
75 Shortleaf pine
76 Shortleaf pine - oak
78 Virginia pine - oak
93 Sugarberry - American elm - green ash
107 White spruce
108 Red maple
Maple-leaf viburnum begins seed production at about 2 years of age and produces abundant fruit every year. Most seeds have an impermeable seedcoat and embryo dormancy that requires a warm-cold stratification sequence to be broken. Vegetative reproduction through rhizomes is extensive.
This species is included in the New York Metropolitan Flora Project of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Click here more information, including a distribution map for the metro New York area (link to NYMF).
This species is grown by the Greenbelt Native Plants Center on Staten Island, NY. This facility is part of the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation and its purpose is to support and promote the use of native species in planting projects. For more information, go to: http://www.nycgovparks.org/greening/greenbelt-native-plant-center.
Plant Response to Fire
Following a prescibed fire in a pine-mixed woodwood forest in Ontario,
mapleleaf viburnum decreased in both frequency and biomass .
Immediate Effect of Fire
Rhizomatous shrub, rhizome in soil
Initial-offsite colonizer (off-site, initial community)
Mapleleaf viburnum is not well adapted to fire. Fire is harmful to
mapleleaf viburnum at both short and long return intervals .
Presumably, low- to moderate-severity fires top-kill mapleleaf
viburnum. It probably survives fire by sprouting from underground
age, and produces large amounts of seed every year. The seed is
dispersed by animals and by gravity .
Most mapleleaf viburnum seeds have an impermeable seedcoat and exhibit
embryo dormancy that requires a warm-cold stratification sequence to be
Mapleleaf viburnum probably reproduces vegetatively by rhizomes .
Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)
Life History and Behavior
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Viburnum acerifolium
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Viburnum acerifolium
Public Records: 11
Specimens with Barcodes: 15
Species With Barcodes: 1
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked
Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status, such as, state noxious status and wetland indicator values.
Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)
These plant materials are readily available from commercial sources. Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly Soil Conservation Service) office for more information. Look in the phone book under ”United States Government.” The Natural Resources Conservation Service will be listed under the subheading “Department of Agriculture.”
Low- to moderate-severity fires top-kill maple-leaf viburnum. It apparently survives fire by sprouting from underground rhizomes, but these are shallow and easily damaged and the species decreases with exposure to repeated fires.
Viburnum leaf beetle: The viburnum leaf beetle (Pyrrhalta viburni), native to Europe and Asia, was first encountered in North America in 1947, perhaps arriving earlier from Europe on nursery plants. It received little notice until 1978, when it caused severe defoliation of ornamental viburnums in Ontario and Quebec. It has now reached western New York and Maine and become a concern in urban landscapes and nurseries.
The adult and the larva “skeletonize” leaves by feeding on the leaves between the midrib and larger veins. Plants, which have been defoliated for 2-3 consecutive years, may be killed. The preferred host is Viburnum opulus and its selections; lesser damage is caused to V. lantana and V. rafinesquianum, V. dentatum, V. acerifolium, and V. lentago. Other species, particularly V. rhytidophyllum and V. carlesii, are relatively unaffected.
The entire life cycle of the viburnum leaf beetle takes about 8-10 weeks. Larvae hatch in early May and feed on the viburnum leaves throughout the larval period, which lasts 4-5 weeks. The larvae pupate in the soil. The adults (4.5-6.5 mm long, brown) appear by mid-July and continue eating the leaves, then mate and lay overwintering eggs on the twigs. Egg-laying holes are in a straight line on the underside of the current season's growth.
Chemical control of the viburnum leaf beetle is best applied to young larvae, because adults will fly away or drop to the ground if disturbed. If over-wintering egg sites are found, affected wood should be pruned and destroyed before the eggs hatch. Examine upper and lower leaf surfaces for feeding larvae. Potential biological control mechanisms are being studied.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
There are not many studies done specifically on V. acerifolium. Many include this species as a typical native of the US in ecological surveys that document changes in distribution (see Greller et al. 1990 for example). Specific studies on V. acerifolium include an examination of nutrient dynamics under drought conditions (Minoletti and Boerner 1994) and seed dormancy (Hidayati et al. 2005). A phylogeny of the Viburnum genus based on chloroplast and nuclear DNA was conducted by Donoghue et al. in 2004.
Donoghue MJ, BG Baldwin, JH Li, and RC Winkworth. 2004. Viburnum phylogeny based on chloroplast trnK intron and nuclear ribosomal ITS DNA sequences. Systematic Botany. 29(1):188-198.
Greller AM, DC Locke, V Kilanowski, and GE Lotowycz. 1990. Changes in vegetation composition and soil acidity between 1922 and 1985 at a site on the north shore of Long Island, New York. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 117(4):450-458.
Hidayati SN, JM Baskin, and CC Baskin. 2005. Epicotyl dormancy in Viburnum acerifolium (Caprifoliaceae). American Midland Naturalist. 153(2):232-244.
Minoletti ML and REJ Boerner. 1994. Drought and site fertility effects on foliar nitrogen and phosphorus dynamics and nutrient resorption by the forest understory shrub Vibernum acerifolium L. American Midland Naturalist. 131(1):109-119.
The dense undergrowth of mapleleaf viburnum provides good nesting and
escape cover for numerous species of birds and small mammals [9,24].
Other uses and values
flowers and foliage .
Importance to Livestock and Wildlife
rabbits, mice, skunks, ruffed grouse, ring-necked pheasants, wild
turkeys, and many species of songbirds [1,9]. The twigs, bark, and
leaves are eaten by white-tailed deer, moose, rabbits, and beavers .
Deer, rabbits, mice, skunks, ruffed grouse, ring-necked pheasants, wild turkeys, and many species of songbirds eat the fruits of maple-leaf viburnum. Deer, moose, rabbits, and beavers eat the twigs, bark, and leaves. The relatively low-growing plants provide good nesting and escape cover for birds and small mammals.
Maple-leaf viburnum has long been cultivated for its attractive summer flowers and foliage; then the autumn leaves turn rose-purple and contrast with the mature dark fruits. The plants will thrive in moist soils and a range of light conditions but they are a good choice for dry soils in deep shade. They can be used along forest edges, streamsides, and lakeshores.
It is a shrub growing to 1-2 m tall. The leaves are in opposite pairs, 5-10 cm long and broad, three- to five-lobed, the lobes with a serrated margin. The flowers are white with five small petals, produced in terminal cymes 4-8 cm diameter. The fruit is a small red to purple drupe 4-8 mm long. It attracts butterflies and birds. The Viburnum acerifolium is a larval host to the Spring Azure butterfly.
The scientific and common names refer to the superficial similarity of the leaves to those of some maples (Acer); the plant is occasionally mistaken for young maples, but is readily distinguished by the flowers and fruit; the viburnum produces small, purple berries, while maples produce dry, winged seeds.
- "Viburnum acerifolium". NatureServe Explorer. NatureServe. Retrieved 2007-07-06.
Names and Taxonomy
Comments: Varieties not recognized within Viburnum acerifolium by Kartesz in his 1999 floristic synthesis.
To request an improvement, please leave a comment on the page. Thank you!