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Just when the landscape’s early-season blooms are beginning to fade, arrowwood viburnum explodes into clusters of tiny, bell-shaped white flowers to keep the pollinators busy. Flowers are followed in July-September by small, oval bluish-black fruits that are a favorite of bluebirds, thrushes, rose-breasted grosbeaks and robins. Upright and rounded, this medium-sized, winter-hardy shrub has lustrous dark green leaves with toothed margins, that turn yellow, red, or purple in fall. While preferring moisture, arrowwood adapts to a variety of soil types, including clay sandy, and loam. Its common name comes from the practice of Native Americans using the long, straight stems to make arrow shafts.  


No major pest or disease problems aside from the viburnum leaf beetle, which defoliates shrubs and has become a major problem in North America.  To control, look for the dark eggs on the undersides of stems and prune the stems before the eggs hatch in spring.  


Arrowwood is found in moist areas such as marshes, streambanks, and swamps.  It may easily be sited along streams or ponds, used as a specimen, or planted in groups to form hedges and screens.  It makes a lovely and durable foundation plant.


Plant Characteristics:

Grows 6-10’ tall and wide. 


Does best with at least 4 hours of direct sunlight.


For best growth, flowering and fruiting, site in moist soil. Tolerates occasional flooding, and some drought, once established.


Trunk is multi-stemmed with fissured, grayish-brown bark.

Viburnum spreads via suckers, which may be cut back to prevent expansion.    


Wildlife Value:

Arrowwood viburnum is a host plant for 101 species of Lepidoptera, including 2 specialist moth species: the brown scoopwing and marveled wave moths, as well as the hummingbird and snowberry clearwing moths (clearwing moths shown here). Red admiral, eastern comma, Baltimore checkerspot, and question mark butterflies visit for nectar, and the twigs and leaves are browsed by white-tailed deer.


Medicinal, Edible, and Other Uses:

Iroquois women used a decoction of the twigs as a contraceptive.


The fruits have a thin layer of flesh over a large seed and taste best as soon as they ripen.


Viburnum, Arrowwood, VIburnum dentatum

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