Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wildflower Wednesday - High Bush Cranberry

Our first spring in the garden we purchased a number of trees and shrubs with a mind to begin filling in the vast amount of lawn we had.  I hadn't anticipated purchasing High Bush Cranberry (Viburnum trilobum) but a kind lady at the nursery suggested this would be a really nice addition and so two specimens came home with us.

Since then I have thought countless times how lucky I was that this native shrub was suggested to me as it provides so much interest in several seasons.  It is not a true cranberry but rather a species of Viburnum growing approximately 15 feet high.  They prefer full sunlight and slightly moist conditions in woods or by streams but they are tolerant of some shade and slightly drier soil.  After purchasing my two plants I did find a wild specimen on our property. Tucked away under a poplar it is growing in slight shade in a damp spot next to the roadside.

I discovered this plant as it is easily identifiable by its leaves which look like that of a maple.

Easy to mistake these for maple leaves but they appear on a bushy shrub
And like a maple the leaves turn a brilliant colour in fall.

The tips of the branches tend to die back over winter thus promoting bushy growth each spring making it quite dense.  Birds apparently like the dense nature of this shrub as it provides great coverage for them but they also appreciate the red berries this plant sports in fall.

In June the flowers begin to form

Which then turn to berries in July

By August the fruit is fully formed

and continues to ripen throughout the fall

While the berries can hang on throughout the winter my shrubs have already been well picked over by the birds now at the end of October.

The two shrubs I purchased have been placed front and center in the middle of our circular driveway next to a mature birch where I can see them throughout the seasons and watch their progress.  They have been a beautiful addition to our yard and I'm glad to have them.

If you would like to see more wildflowers or participate in Wildflower Wednesday please pop on over to Gail's blog, Clay and Limestone, where every fourth Wednesday of the month we celebrate the wild side of our gardens.


  1. Hello there Marguerite girl : )
    This was one of the first shrubs in my garden, but sadly I had to get rid of it along with a few other plants that were highly "rust" applicable ? haha .. I still have to get rid of a few others trying to make it in my garden because rust is such a huge problem in my neighborhood .. BIG sigh !

  2. I love them and want them in my garden. Alas, that moist soil throws me again. It sounds like you've placed these perfectly for viewing! gail

  3. Hi Marguerite, I have several Viburnum and like you think, that they are a colorful addition to the garden even after they finish flowering. I am a sucker for any shrub that has the bonus of berries.

  4. What a beautiful plant with something for the whole year. I love "finding" something new when out at the nurseries.

  5. It's funny how common names are so misleading. This beautiful viburnum is called a cranberry bush which is not a cranberry at all! Viburnums are stars in the garden, and you've placed yours well to see it in all seasons.

  6. I too pictured the Highbush today, but just the fall images with berries. There are so many of them in the park, thanks to the birds. Ity was nice you had the whole seasonal transition.

  7. A terrific shrub with real 3-season interest. Have always been jealous of people who could grow them well - mine were always eaten to bits. Although after seeing yours I'm tempted to try again.

  8. Marguerite, I had heard of "highbush cranberry" but had no idea it was a viburnum. It's gorgeous! I do love viburnum, and I'm still looking for the right one (or more :-)) to grow on my property. -Jean

  9. Marguerite,
    We purchased one this Spring from Macphail's and I just love it also.
    It has such wonderful blooms and the leaves are fantastic to watch their colour change.
    They say you can make jelly from the cranberries but I find them really sour. I think I'll leave mine for the birds to enjoy.
    We will be back next year to purchase another one, but I have taken some clippings to see if I can re-root a few. No luck so far.
    Beautiful true pictures you have taken. I agree a must for every home along with a burning bush.

  10. Joy - Rust?!?! oh no. I haven't seen any damage on these plants thus far but the hollyhocks I planted are a misery. I just got through cutting off all the affected leaves and when I checked again the remaining leaves had turned all rusty too. I may need to pull all those plants out before they infect everything else.

    Gail - they're in a great spot for me to keep an eye on them but I wonder how they'll do with the dry soil next to the big trees. So far they're okay but I imagine they would probably prefer the wooded areas better.

    Jennifer - I had no idea these were such colourful shrubs but they really are a great surprise with both berries and coloured leaves.

    Tufa - one of the things that always keeps me going in gardening is there's always something 'new' to find. I feel like I can never stop learning when it comes to the garden.

  11. Laurrie - using latin names was probably one of my first big lessons in the garden. As you point out, common names can be very misleading.

    Donna - somehow I managed to take a lot of pictures this summer but didn't end up posting many of them. I'm starting to comb through my photos now and realized I had enough to show this plant through a few stages.

    Barbara - I wonder what was eating them? Mine have a few holes from bugs but otherwise don't seem to be bothered by much. The other trees I planted around the same time have had all sorts of pests so these seemed pretty trouble free to me.

    Jean - it's only in the last year or two that I realized what a wide variety of viburnum there are. There was a species I used to seeing on the west coast and that one shrub was the extent of my knowledge. It was a surprise to me to see this native plant was a virburnum too.

    Witch - that's where my shrubs came from too! MacPhail's has really been a wonderful source for me since moving here. I've learned a lot through them. Haven't actually tried the berries myself but heard the same about jelly. I wonder if the berries contain seeds? you could start new plants from them if they do.

  12. I have a few different shrubs with red berries and weren't sure what they are - I think some are chokecherry. Thanks for the tip about the shape of the leaves of the Viburnum - I'll be looking for those when I'm back next summer.

  13. I love this native shrub but disease (I guess it's rust) is a problem here too. The European cranberry bush viburnum is said to be resistant and mine is. I would never get rid of the native though.

  14. Those are brilliant colors aren't they? Maybe I should look into getting some of them for my upcountry garden.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

  15. Marguerite, Oh, this is one of my favorite shrubs! Your photos so beautifully illustrate how much it offers during the entire year. I love the way the berries seem to drip off the branches in the fall.

  16. Jane - I believe there's a lot of chokecherry on island. Unfortunately we had a case of black knot here so we can't have any cherry of any kind on the property.

    Carolyn - apparently the European bush is very similar and lots of people have it but like you I wouldn't get rid of the native as the berries are much more appetizing to the birds.

    Jen - upcountry? Does this mean you've found a place in the interior? I hope so, that would be very exciting for you.

    Debbie - the berries really are quite something. Very large and shiny and lots of them. Just a beautiful shrub all around.

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