Thursday, January 13, 2011

Two Viburnums

Highbush cranberry05.jpg
America Cranberrybush (Viburnum opulus var. americanum)
There are two Viburnums in the woods: the hobblebush and the highbush cranberry. They have similar, but distinctive leaves, are both shrubs and both have red berries in late summer and red leaves in the fall. Hobblebush is so plentiful in the woods that the young shoots look like ground cover and we did not identify it for months. The highbush cranberry is not as plentiful as the hobblebush but looks so similar that we became confused. John and I have finally identified each plant and sorted out the photographs of each.
Gnome Stairs Hike  6
Hobblebush (Viburnum lantanoides)
You can see the differences and similarities of the two species in the photos. The leaves are distinctive: the hobblebush highbush cranberry leaves look like maple leaves. The berries are very similar, also.
I found that Viburnum is now a popular landscaping shrub. They are from the honeysuckle family, change colors in the fall and make berries for the birds that winter with you. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service states "American cranberrybush is a good wildlife food and cover plant for small mammals and birds. Twigs are eaten by deer, moose and beaver. Fruits are a staple winter food for ruffed grouse and are eaten sparingly by pheasants and at least five species of songbirds. Humans find the fruit tart but edible and excellent as a preserve or sauce." The same can be said of the hobblebush, whose "branches often bend and take root, tripping or hobbling passers-by; hence its common name." (source: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center) There are many beautiful species for all different planting zones. Some look like hydrangeas. There are over 150 species and almost all of them are in North America.



  1. Thanks for the scoop. Beautiful shots.

  2. You wrote:

    "The leaves are distinctive: the hobblebush leaves look like maple leaves."

    Just wanted to point out that there seems to be an error in the text here. It is the leaves of the Highbush Cranberry that resemble maple leaves, while the leaves of the Hobblebush are rounded (like those of an aspen, for example).

  3. Thank you, Justin. I reviewed the USDA fact sheets and you are right. I got tangled up and have corrected the error. Thank you! If you hadn't seen this, I could've messed up identifications forever.


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