Content Detail

Black-haw viburnum is a large shrub or a small, native tree. In spring, new leaves emerge copper-colored followed by white, flat-topped flowers. In fall, black fruits contrast with the pinkish-red foliage. A great plant for naturalized areas. 

This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm’s Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.

  • Family (English) Elderberry
  • Family (botanic) Adoxaceae
  • Tree or plant type Shrub
  • Native locale Chicago area, Illinois, North America
  • Size range Compact tree (10-15 feet), Large shrub (more than 8 feet)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Chicago), Zone 6, Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Clay soil, Dry sites, Occasional drought
  • Season of interest early fall, late spring, mid fall, mid spring
  • Flower color and fragrance Fragrant, White
  • Shape or form Multi-stemmed, Round, Upright
  • Growth rate Moderate, Slow

Size & Form:

Black-haw viburnum’s grow 12 to 15 feet high and 8 to 12 feet wide. It is a large, suckering shrub or single-trunked tree.

Native geographic location and habitat:

As a Chicago native, it is most commonly found in woods and forest edges. It is tolerant of roadside edges and stream banks. C-Value: 5

Attracts birds & butterflies:

Black-haw viburnum provides food and shelter to many bird species.

Bark color and texture:

The mature bark is brownish and broken into a blocky pattern. Whereas, young stems are slender and straight with a pinkish bloom on reddish stems. A leaf scar is v-shaped and slightly raised.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

Opposite leaves up typically three to  four inches long. The leaf is narrow to oval with serrated edges and a pointed tip. The smooth surface of a leaf is a medium green color with a lighter underside surface. Leaves will turn reddish-purple in fall. There are two types of terminal buds during winter months. 

Black-haw viburnum is often confused with Nannyberry (Viburnum lentago). These petioles are reddish and are not winged like Nannyberry. 

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

There are small, creamy white slightly fragrant flowers in flat-topped to slightly domed clusters. The Flower buds in winter are larger, bulbous, pinkish at the ends of stems.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

Black-haw viburnum has berry-like fruits (drupes) that turn a dark blue or black in the fall.

Tree & Plant Care:

It is adaptable to most sites including wet or dry areas in the sun or shade. The black-haw viburnum can form thickets. Since it flowers on old wood it can be pruned after flowering.

List of pests and diseases:

There aren’t any known serious problems.  The plant is tolerant of black walnut toxicity and aerial salt spray


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