Content Detail

Korean spice viburnum’s most notable characteristic is the intoxicatingly fragrant white flowers that cover the shrub in spring. The pink to red-budded white flowers have a pink blush. Leaves are a dull, dark green that turn outstanding wine-red in the fall. An excellent choice as specimen, in a shrub border, and as a foundation plant. Place it where the fragrant flowers can be enjoyed. This plant has some cultivated varieties. Burkwood viburnum (Viburnum x burkwoodii), is a related species also listed below with cultivars. 

  • Family (English) Elderberry
  • Family (botanic) Adoxaceae
  • Tree or plant type Shrub
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Small shrub (3-5 feet), Medium shrub (5-8 feet)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7
  • Soil preference Acid soil, Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, clay soil
  • Season of interest late spring, mid fall, late fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Fragrant, White
  • Shape or form Mounded, Round
  • Growth rate Slow

Size & Form: 

Korean spice viburnum is a rounded, dense shrub with a stiff, upright branching habit. It grows 4 to 8 feet high and wide.

Native geographic location and habitat: 

Native to Korea and Japan.

Bark color and texture: 

Older stems are gray in color.

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

Opposite, simple leaves are 2 to 4 inch long, and dull to lustrous gray-green. Fall color is wine-red.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

Small white flowers bloom in a 2 to 4 inch diameter, semi-snowball shaped cluster. Flower buds are pink, giving flowers a pinkish tinge. Extremely fragrant.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

Egg-shaped, red to black fruit is not showy or prolific.

Plant care:

Best in full sun to light shade for greatest flowering potential. Although pH adaptable, it prefers moist, well-drained soil. Do not plant in extremely wet sites. Prune after flowering.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

Korean spice viburnum is susceptible to viburnum crown borer. Tolerant of black walnut toxicity.

Aurora Koreanspice viburnum (Viburnum carlesii ‘Aurora’):

This cultivar is 6 to 8 feet high and wide. It has prolific deep pink-red buds that open to pinkish-white.

Compact Koreanspice viburnum (Viburnum carlesii ‘Compactum’):

A dwarf form reaching 3 to 4 feet high, it has dark green leaves and pinkish-white flowers.

Spice Bouquet™ Koreanspice viburnum (Viburnum carlesii ‘N. J. Select’):

Maturing to 4 to 5 feet high and 5 to 6 feet wide, the shrub has dark rose-pink buds that open to soft pink flowers.

Spice Island™ Koreanspice viburnum (Viburnum carlesii ‘N. J. Select A’):

Grows 3 to 5 feet high and wide. Red-pink buds open to white flowers. Dark green leaves during spring and summer with red fall color.

Sugar N’ Spice™ Koreanspice viburnum (Viburnum carlesii ‘N.J. Select S’):

A smaller form reaching 4 to 5 feet high and wide. Dark green leaves turn a maroon red fall color.

Burkwood viburnum (Viburnum x burkwoodii):

This hybrid is a cross between Viburnum utile and V. carlesii. It is a densely-branched shrub reaching 8 to 10 feet high and 5 to 7 feet wide,with fragrant, white, 2 to 4 inch wide flat-topped cymes in April.

Mohawk Burkwood viburnum (Viburnum x burkwoodii ‘Mohawk’):

A hybrid of Viburnum burkwoodii x V. carlesii. A broadly rounded reaching 7 to 8 feet high. Shiny red buds open to white petals with red blotch. The flowers are very fragrant. Dark green leaves turn a reddish-purple in the fall.


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