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Blackhaw Viburnum, Acreage Insights - March 2018,
Blackhaw Viburnum, photo courtesy of Richard Webb,

Spring is a great time of the year. Plants start to wake up from the winter dormancy, the weather begins to warm up and people like me can get out of the house and back into the garden. A great plant choice for long season of interest would be a viburnum. There are so many different species of viburnums to allow you to choose the one that best fits you and your landscape. One great viburnum would be Blackhaw Viburnum.

Blackhaw viburnum, Viburnum prunifolium, grows up to 12-15 feet tall and 8-10 feet wide. It can be grown as a small tree or as a large shrub. The leaves are oval-shaped, up to 3.5 inches long, and glossy green on top with toothed margins. The leaves turn purplish-red in the fall, giving it season long interest. In the late spring, typically April-June, Blackhaw viburnum will flower with white, flat-topped groupings of many small flowers held together; this is called a cyme. The individual flowers are ¼ inch across and the cyme is 2-4 inches across. Because this is a later spring blooming viburnum, the flowers are not as fragrant as the virburnums that flower in the earlier spring, but they are attractive and emerge as the leaves are emerging. The fruit is a small, oval, berry with a seed inside. The pink fruits are ½ inch long and mature to a bluish black color in the fall. The fruit is edible.

There are some great cultivars to choose from to get the traits you desire in blackhaw viburnum. ‘Summer Magic’ is a great choice for yellow to red fall color, glossy leaves, and a smaller plant that only grows up to 10 feet tall and 8 feet wide. ‘Ovazum’ is a columnar selection that would be good for smaller spaces. ‘Ovazum’ is only 4 feet wide but it still grows up to 10 feet tall. 

Blackhaw viburnum is very adaptable to many different growing conditions. It prefers to be grown in full sun, but will grow well in part shade as well. It is adaptable to many different soils and will grow well in drought conditions. Blackhaw viburnum faces no serious pest problems. It can be used as a specimen tree or shrub, in a large grouping, or as a border or screen in your landscape.

Blackhaw viburnum is an attractive plant to pollinator insects such as butterflies and is attractive to birds. Birds and other wildlife enjoy the fruits on the plant, as do people. The fruits are eaten raw and are often used to make jams. According to Michael Dirr, the fruits have been used for preserves since colonial days.

Blackhaw viburnum is just one of the many choices of viburnums to use in your landscape. It blooms in early April with beautiful white flowers and has very few pest problems. Blackhaw viburnum can be grown in most any location, but will do best in full sun for best flower and fruiting production. Make sure you have enough space for this large shrub when you plant it because it grows quite large, or select one of the smaller cultivars. So the next time you look to plant a large shrub in your landscape, look into the viburnums, especially blackhaw.

Nicole Stoner
Nicole Stoner
Extension Educator - Horticulture

As a professional horticulturist, Nicole's focus areas include trees, shrubs, lawns, gardens, and insects.

Gage County Extension
1115 West Scott
Beatrice, NE

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