top of page

American highbush cranberry is actually a viburnum, and has many features that make it an edible ideal landscape shrub. In June, flat-topped clusters of showy white flowers appear, followed by bright red berries that persist through most of winter, providing critical late-season food for birds and other wildlife. The flavor and appearance of the fruit is a lot like true cranberries. Fall foliage can vary, but is most often a spectacular deep red. Cranberry viburnum has a dense, rounded shape that makes an excellent screening hedge and windbreak.

 

Native to northeast Ohio, this shrub is also planted throughout the state.  In the wild, it’s found in open, wet woodlands and beside streams and other bodies of water.  Beautiful planted as a specimen, in groups, along streams or pond edges, or as a hedge, planted 2-3 feet apart.  A wonderful rain garden plant.

 

Plant Characteristics:

Grows 6-12’ tall and wide.

 

Requires at least 4 hours of sun. Full sun (6+ hours) produces best fruiting. Full shade is tolerated, but produces leggier growth.

 

Prefers moist or wet soils of rich, acidic loam.  Tolerates dry or poorly drained acidic, neutral, or alkaline soils.

 

Highbush is susceptible to stem blight and damage from the viburnum leaf beetle.

 

Flat-topped clusters of white flowers are 2-3” across and are composed of an outer ring of larger, sterile flowers that encircle smaller white, self-fertile flowers. Flowers are wind and insect-pollinated.

 

Flowers are followed by small, red fruits in August and September.  

 

Glossy, 2-3”, dark green leaves have a three-lobed, trident-like shape with a wrinkled surface.  They change to yellow-red, orange, or red-purple in the fall.  

 

Mature bark is light brown to olive-brown, with a few lenticels.  At maturity, the branches’ arching growth habit may leave an opening at the center of the plant.  Prune after flowers fade in spring to control shape and size.

 

Wildlife value:

A host plant for at least 223 species of moths and butterflies, including the hummingbird and snowberry clearwing moths, and several silk moths, including the promethea and imperial moths (all 4 moths pictured above in that order). Many of these caterpillars overwinter below the shrub in the leaf litter.

 

To protect itself from hungry, marauding caterpillars, special nectar-producing glands (extra-floral nectaries) on the leaf stems lure insects that are enticed by both a sweet nectar treat and the protein available from a caterpillar.  Ants, wasps, and even some flies are potential security guards that are paid for their presence with nectar from these glands. 

 

Flies, bees and beetles are all important pollinators of the flowers. The berries sweeten after exposed to a few freeze-thaw cycles, and are eaten as a winter survival food by ruffed grouse, pheasants, deer, raccoons, chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits, robins, cedar waxwings, and other songbirds.  The dense branching habit provides good cover for a wide array of wildlife.

 

Medicinal, Edible, and Other Uses:

The bark and berries can be dried and crushed into different infusions for stomach cramps and muscle aches. Too many berries can cause stomach aches, especially in small children.

 

The berries were commonly consumed by Native Americans. High in Vitamin C, they can be eaten raw, used in preserves/jams/jellies, or prepared into a variety of dishes.  They are sweeter when collected after a frost.

Viburnum, Cranberry, Viburnum trilobum

SKU: 56
$25.00Price
Excluding Sales Tax
    bottom of page