Content Detail

Witherod viburnum is a large, upright-spreading, suckering shrub, native to North America. It tolerates both shady and wet sites, excellent for shrub borders, naturalizing, and woodland sites. It may be difficult to find in nurseries. A related species, possum-haw (Viburnum nudum), is listed in the cultivars section.

  • Family (English) Elderberry
  • Family (botanic) Adoxaceae
  • Tree or plant type Shrub
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale North America
  • Size range Medium shrub (5-8 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 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Acid soil, Moist, well-drained soil, Wet soil
  • Tolerances Occasional flooding, Road salt, Wet sites
  • Season of interest mid spring, late spring, early fall, mid fall
  • Flower color and fragrance White
  • Shape or form Arching, Multi-stemmed, Round
  • Growth rate Moderate, Slow

Size & form: 

Witherod is a dense, compact, suckering shrub which grows 6 to 15 feet high and wide. It is often confused with possum-haw (Viburnum nudum).

Native geographic location and habitat: 

Native to the northeastern United States and states along the Gulf Coast, witherod is often found in bogs and swamps.

Bark color and texture: 

Smooth, gray-brown bark is dotted with lenticels.

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

Opposite, simple leaves are 3 to 4 inches long and elliptical with short pointed tips and finely serrated teeth margins. Leaves are medium green, with rust-colored dots along the mid-rib and leaf base. Fall color ranges from orange to red to purple.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size: 

Small creamy white flowers are borne in flat-topped clusters. They are unpleasantly scented.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions: 

Berry-like fruit changes from green to yellow, then pink, red, and black. All colors may be present in the same fruit cluster. Fruit tends to persist through much of fall.

Plant care:

Witherod grows best in part shade, but is tolerant of full sun as long as it has adequate soil moisture. It prefers wet, acidic sites, but will tolerate moist, well-drained soil. Prune after flowering.

Related species 

Possum-Haw or smooth witherod (Viburnum nudum):

A dense, 8 to 12 feet high shrub with upright, arching stems. Leaf surface has a waxy, shiny, medium green color that changes to an excellent reddish-purple fall color. The flat-topped, white flower clusters are followed by colorful, green to pink to blue fruit. It is native to low woods, swamps, and bog areas in the astern and southeastern United States.


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