Content Detail

This large shrub or small tree grows 15 to 20 feet tall. It has glossy, dark green leaves with toothed edges. In May, creamy-white flowers are followed later with clusters of red berries. The shiny dark green leaves turn a burgundy in fall.

  • Family (English) Elderberry
  • Family (botanic) Adoxaceae
  • Tree or plant type Tree, Shrub
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Large shrub (more than 8 feet), Compact tree (10-15 feet), Small tree (15-25 feet)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil
  • Season of interest mid spring, mid fall
  • Flower color and fragrance White
  • Shape or form Round, Upright
  • Growth rate Moderate

Size and form: 

A large shrub or small tree that grows 15 to 20 feet high with a 15 feet spread. It has an open habit with stiff horizontal branches.

Native geographic location and habitat: 

Native to Japan.

Bark color and texture: 

The gray bark is blocky and broken in small plates resembling alligator skin. Branches are grayish, slightly pubescent, stiff and rigid.

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

Opposite, elliptical leaves are 3 to 5 inches long with a toothed margins and deeply ridged veins. Leaves are dark green in summer and may pick up some red-purple color in the fall.  They smell like green pepper when crushed. Some cultivars have been selected for improved fall color.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size: 

Small, creamy white flowers are in loose, open clusters on long stalks.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions: 

The fruit is a cluster of small berry-like drupes, changing color from green to red to nearly black. Once the fruit drops, the inflorescence remains rosy-red and showy.

Plant care:

Best in full sun in moist, well drained soil. Water in dry periods. Prune after flowering in spring. This plant is difficult to locate in nurseries.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances: 

No serious diseases or pests. Scorch may be a problem in sites that are too dry.

Ironclad™ Siebold viburnum (Viburnum sieboldii ‘KLMfour’):  

A heavy flowering form with reliable burgundy fall color, this plant grows 15 feet high and 12 feet wide.

Wavecrest Siebold viburnum (Viburnum sieboldii ‘Wavecrest’): 

This cultivar is 7 to 8 feet high and 4 feet wide.  Thick dark green leaves turn a brick-red fall color.  The fruit is orange-red with scarlet peduncles.


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