Wednesday, August 27, 2008

American Cranberry Bush

In the photo v. trilobum left growing beside v. opulus right.

Viburnum trilobum is a native American species often referred to as an American cranberry or highbush cranberry. Viburnum opulus is a non native sometimes called a snowball bush V. opulus has a spectacular May flower display but does not produce fruit.

The American cranberry is a fast growing shrub that can reach 12-15 feet high with equal width. Its May flowers are broad, white lacecaps rather than rounded. It has a graceful, airy appearance when in bloom.

Since the lower branches can become leafless and twiggy with age, I pune one of mine into a multi trunked, 15-foot shrub with lower trunks bare to about 3 feet, then branching densely. It can also be kept as a lower growing, more compact shrub maintaining foliage close to the ground. I use the latter pruning method to keep my second American cranberry more in scale with the shorter v. opulus planted beside it.

As its name implies, it produces abundant bright red fruit in late August and September. The fruit usually persists into the winter and is often still clinging to the bushes when the early migrating birds pass through the area. The fruit is safe for humans and is used in jelly. Burgundy red fall foliage provides some late season garden interest.
Depending on how it is pruned, it can create a quick growing hedge or screen. It is hardy in the northern U. S. and well into Canada.

I have experienced no pests or problems with this shrub. Although it is not recommended for drought areas, it has proved well able to handle our 2005 drought which was the areas worst in 75-years.


31 comments:

flydragon said...

That cranberry bush has to be a great attraction for all kinds of birds. I should look into that. As for the snowball bush, one of my all time favorites, but only in the spring. My neighbor has one and I can see it out my front window. If the flowers lasted longer I might think of getting one for myself.

Sherri said...

Marnie, my friend back home (northwestern NJ) had a beautiful American Cranberry is her yard.

tina said...

What an awesome first picture of the two viburnums! Your garden must truly be spectacular. Those berries are pretty cool too! My viburnums never get berries. I planted some pollinators just this year.

PGL said...

Looks like a fantastic addition to your garden. I love the flowers & the berries are a great added bonus for the birds. This is going on my wishlist! :)

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi flydragon, I know what you mean, the flowers of most spring blooming shrubs don't last long.

The birds do eat some of the viburnum berries, but they are not a favorite food source.
Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Sherry, they are beautiful when in bloom and in fruit.
Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Tina, I love viburnums. I've lost several to drought over the years. My policy for the last few years has been if it can't survive on rain, I don't grow it. I do look longingly at the new Blueberry Muffin Arrowwood Viburnum. What a cutie. Annabelle is my exception to the no water rule. It is a must have!
Marnie

Kathleen said...

I love the viburnums in general and have many in my yard. I find the birds quite attracted to their berries ~ they are sometimes picked clean by early winter! I have been pruning out older wood on mine this summer to keep them full and thick. Nice post!

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Kathleen, I need to prune out the old wood on the viburnums and the lilacs. Nasty job, but I've let it go too long. Thanks for the reminder.
Marnie

beckie said...

Marnie, a wonderful bush. Another one I hadn't heard of...sigh. Your picture of the berries is one you should frame, lovely. After seeing all the varieties of viburnums on blogs this spring and now this one, I am going to have to look into getting some. Can this one take light shade and damp feet?

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Beckie, I don't think it would be happy in damp shade.

Something that I would love to have if I had damp shade is clethera. Smells wonderful. There are a couple different varieties with different colors and different sizes. Hydrangea too if it isn't too damp.
Marnie

Dog_geek said...

Nice pictures! We have some snowball bushes along our front walk, but they had gotten so out of control that they were obscuring half the walkway and everyone was having to walk around them to get to the front steps. Mr. Farmer Dog Geek just brutally pruned them so they will almost be starting from scratch.

Rose said...

I'd never heard of a cranberry bush before; this is a beauty. And I didn't realize a viburnum could get so large! I had the viburnum on my "maybe" list; now I think I'm going to have to put it on the "definitely" wish list!

Phillip said...

I have a number of viburnums but not this one. I've always wanted it but I don't think I have enough room for it now. It is beautiful and your photos of it are exceptional.

Gail said...

You can't lose with Viburnums they are just the best shrubs, this one looks like a great shrub. Sounds like it might be happier up in your neck of the woods and further north then down here!

Gail

Roses and Lilacs said...

Good morning Dog Geek. I hope your drastically pruned shrubs bloom for you next year;) I hate to waste a year with no bloom.

What did you find out at the veterinary specialist yesterday? I'll be over to your site in a little while to see what you posted.
Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Rose, you might not be old enough to remember Eulle Gibbons. He wrote some books on edible things in nature--like cattails. Anyway, I think he did a TV commercial with a bowl of cereal and some 'highbush cranberries'. I promise, if you ever sit down with a bowl of corn flakes and some of these cranberries, you won't take more than one bite:) SOUR!!!
Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Phillip, yes these make a large shrub.

IMHO, this isn't necessarily the best or most attractive of the available viburnums. It is one of the hardiest and most tolerant of adverse conditions. That's why I have it. If I had different conditions here, I'd grow Mariesii (had one that expired during a prolonged drought), and seiboldii. Both incredibly beautiful.
Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hey Gail, I agree. They do best in zone 6 and lower. Well, it's only fair;) We can't grow crepe myrtle, or jasmine up here in zones 4-5. I hate that. Why can't they develop hardy varieties to zone 4?
Marnie

Mary said...

Oh, it's lovely! I have never tried to grow any viburnums, but have often admired them...
Yours are beautiful!
xoxo,
Mary

Mary said...

Thank you for stopping by my blog...because now I have found yours! I think I will enjoy coming back often :-) Lovely pictures on todays post!

Balisha said...

Hi,
My first visit here. I have been researching this very bush. We put one in two years ago. It is growing nicely..except that we had no blossums or berries yet. Is this something that takes a couple of years to get started? The leaves are just starting to get fall color on the tips. I'm in No. Illinois too.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Mary, thanks for stopping by to visit. I know what you mean, not everyone has just the right spot of a viburnum. Maye someday you will have a good place and you can choose your favorite.
Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Balisha I'm so glad you found my site and left me a comment. Thank you.

I think bloom depends on a couple things. Is it getting at least 6 hours of direct sunlight? How large is the shrub? Have you pruned it? Usually you prune/shape spring flowering shrubs after they bloom, in this case maybe mid-June. That gives them time to set new buds for the following spring. Pruning in early spring or in fall/winter removes the buds and prevents bloom. Good luck with your new shrub.
Marnie

kd said...

Those are really attractive bushes, and the American Cranberry Bush, in particular, must also attract a lot of birds when the fruit is ripe! I'll look for it the next time I'm at a garden centre.

/krys

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi KD, it does attract some migrating birds. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a message.
Marnie

troutbirder said...

Oh dear. I was a little late reading this post. I purchased a highbush last spring and planted it along the road in the front yard. I thinking size wise I made a big mistake after reading your post...

Cosmo said...

Hi, Marnie--Happy Labor Day. I'm spending mine in the garden (and repressing the fact that school has started). I love viburnum--I have four, though I haven't had tremendous success with the American Cranberry. But we have a native in Virginia that's very similar--Viburnum Nudum, or Possum Haw--the berries look almost identical to yours. I just picked some seeds yesterday on a nature walk with the Curmudgeon--maybe in a year or two they'll produce a posting!

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Troutbirder. Maybe you can keep pruning it to maintain the size you want. Good luck.
Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Cosmos, I've heard of Possum Haw but didn't realize it was similar. I've heard the Highbush Cranberry is more for northern gardeners so that would agree with your experience.

Good luck with your seeds. Mine has never produced seedlings or suckers.
Marnie

Teri said...

Thanks so much for the info and the photo of the two different viburnums, side by side. I've been looking for a nice-looking (multi-season interest), easy-maintenance shrub for my yard and have considerd viburnum. Your photos were very helpful.