Nannyberry Viburnum

Nannyberry Viburnum


Nannyberry Viburnum

A versatile native shrub with excellent year-round interest, Nannyberry Viburnum features showy white flowers in May and burgundy leaf color in autumn with dark blue berries. A large upright shrub, it spreads by roots to form colonies and makes an excellent privacy screen or hedgerow. It can be maintained as a small tree by pruning stems and removing the suckers at the base. Adaptable to a wide range of soils, this native viburnum is found in low moist woods or near stream banks, but will tolerate drier sites. Very shade tolerant in nature, it grows larger in open sunny areas.


Nannyberry is a native, suckering shrub and is adaptable to a wide range of sites. It is commonly found in moist areas with rich loam to clay-loam soil, such as low woods, swamp borders, or near stream banks but tolerates drier sites. Although quite shade-tolerant, it achieves a relatively larger size in more open areas. It can be grown as a shrub or small tree. Creamy white flowers in spring are showy as are the fruits in the fall which are edible. Fall color is orange to reds. Nannyberry is not only common throughout most of Minnesota, it's become a fairly popular landscaping shrub in urban areas. While it's typically a densely mutliple stemmed shrub in open sites, the plant industry had deemed it fit to train it to a single stem, marketing it more as a small tree. That works only as well as the final property owner dutifully prunes out the numerous suckers it attempts to produce. Even then, it will not persist long term as a single stemmed small tree, over time losing its vigor and esthetic form.

Range & Habitat: The native Nannyberry is occasional in the northern half of Illinois, where it is native, while in the southern half of the state it is rare or absent (see Distribution Map). Illinois lies along the southern range-limit of this species. Habitats include rocky woodlands, mesic woodlands, low woodlands along streams, thickets, roadsides, and fence rows. Because of its attractive flowers, fruit, and autumn foliage, Nannyberry is occasionally cultivated as an ornamental shrub or small tree. It is found in both higher-quality natural areas and disturbed areas.Nannyberry is leggy and somewhat open at maturity with an irregular to rounded crown. Suckers often form at the base. The bark is dark gray to black in a pattern of small blocks. The ½-1-inch petiole has a wavy, mostly winged margin. Mature foliage is dark glossy green, becoming deep maroon to red in the fall. Small, creamy-white, bisexual flowers in flat-topped clusters appear May through June. Nannyberry is one of the showiest native shrubs. The ½-inch berry-like fruits (drupes) are blue-black and form hanging clusters from July to September. (Source: www.wisconsinfoodforests.com)


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