12 Species of Viburnum Shrubs

This viburnum shrub comes from China
Image by wallygrom under a Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License
  • 01 of 13

    Members of the Viburnum Genus

    Flowers
    Andy Andrew Fogg/Flickr

    If you are looking for a flowering shrub that will add beauty to your landscape, one of the popular Viburnum shrubs may be a great addition.

    Characteristics of Viburnum

    Viburnums are placed in the Adoxaceae family, though they used to be in the Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle) family. Members of this family are some of the relatively few kinds of trees and shrubs to feature opposite branching, which is useful for identification purposes. They can be either evergreen or deciduous, depending on the species and location where they are growing.

    Many viburnums will put on a showy display, producing white (and sometimes tinged with pink) flowers in an arrangement called a corymb. Most species are dioecious (or at least functionally dioecious, meaning that cross-pollination with another variety or species is needed for pollination to occur) with a few being monoecious. If both sexes are present, the female flowers later produce drupes that are red, purple, blue or black. Interestingly, some species are edible, while others are somewhat poisonous.

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  • 02 of 13

    Burkwood Viburnum

    Flowers on a Burkwood viburnum come in clusters.
    Gary Dean Austin/Flickr

    The Burkwood viburnum was produced when the Koreanspice viburnum (Viburnum carlesii) and the service viburnum (Viburnum utile) were crossed. This species features large and balled flower clusters that are fragrant. You may want to plant several of these shrubs together, which will translate to better pollination and fruit production for fall color.

    • Latin Name: Viburnum x burkwoodii
    • Other Common Names: Snowball viburnum
    • Native to: Asia
    • USDA Zones: 5-8
    • Height: 8-10' tall
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  • 03 of 13

    Cinnamomum-Leaved Viburnum

    The leaves on this shrub are similar to ones of the Cinnamomum genus
    Peganum/Flickr

    The leaves on the Cinnamomum-leaved evergreen viburnum species are similar to those of the camphor tree (Cinnamomum camphora). In fact, it won the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society. Its leaves are opposite, simple, thick, dark-blue, and oval-shaped. It grows very large and upright, with long petioles and open flower clusters.

    • Latin Name: Viburnum cinnamomifolium
    • Other Common Names: Cinnamon-leaved viburnum, cinnamon leaf viburnum
    • Native to: Western China
    • USDA Zones: 7-9
    • Height: 10-20' tall
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  • 04 of 13

    David Viburnum

    Clusters of white flowers form on the David viburnum
    Peganum/Flickr

    The David is one of the smaller evergreen viburnums. The name was given due to a Jesuit missionary, named Jean Pierre Armand David, who discovered it. There are pretty small white flowers on this shrub, with glossy and dark leaves, that lead to small, metallic, and turquoise-blue fruit.

    • Latin Name: Viburnum davidii
    • Native to: Western China
    • USDA Zones: 7-9
    • Height: 2-5' tall
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  • 05 of 13

    Henry's Viburnum

    Henry's viburnum with cliusters of fruit
    Wlcutler/Flickr

    Henry's viburnum shrub can be developed into a small tree by forming a single trunk through pruning. This shrub was discovered by a man named Augustine Henry. Its evergreen leaves are reddish when they are young and shift to green, and this plant particularly attracts bees, butterflies, and birds due to its fragrant flowers.

    • Latin Name: Viburnum henryi
    • Native to: China
    • USDA Zones: 7-10
    • Height: 7-15' tall
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  • 06 of 13

    Koreanspice Viburnum

    The Koreanspice viburnum is indeed from Korea, as well as Japan.
    X-oph/Flickr

    The Koreanspice diminutive species of viburnum has white or pink flowers that add a lovely spice scent to your garden. It is a deciduous species and will add fall color when the leaves change. For instance, this plant has large clusters of waxy flowers with bright red berries that fade to black in the fall. Many choose to plant this beauty near windows, patios, and living areas for the fragrance alone.

    • Latin Name: Viburnum carlesii
    • Other Common Names: Mayflower viburnum, Korean viburnum
    • Native to: Japan and Korea
    • USDA Zones: 4-7
    • Height: 3-6' tall
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  • 07 of 13

    Larustinus Viburnum

    Flowers and fruit on a Laurustinus viburnum
    Wlcutler/Flickr

    The leaves on the Larustinus viburnum are much like those of the bay laurel (Laurus nobilis), prompting the common names. You will find that this beautiful and low-growing evergreen shrub has dark green foliage, light fragrance, and pink-white flowers. In warmer areas, it will bloom during the winter. 

    • Latin Name: Viburnum tinus. Another botanical name is Tinus laurifolius.
    • Other Common Names: Laurestine, Laurestinus viburnum, and Laurustinus
    • Native to: The Mediterranean region and Macaronesia
    • USDA Zones: 7-10
    • Height: 6-12' tall
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  • 08 of 13

    Leatherleaf Viburnum

    This viburnum shrub comes from China
    Wallygrom/Flickr

    The Leatherleaf viburnum does well in any soil you plant it in, as it can work with both acidic and alkaline pH values. This shrub creates flat cymes of creamy white flowers in the spring, along with berries in early fall. It is either evergreen or deciduous depending on the climate where it is grown.

    • Latin Name: Viburnum rhytidophyllum
    • Native to: Central and western China
    • USDA Zones: 5-8
    • Height: 6-15' tall
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  • 09 of 13

    Nannyberry

    Nannyberries are edible
    Andrey_zharkikh/Flickr

    You can eat nannyberries straight from the shrub or cook them to make jams and jellies. Some people feel that this plant smells like a sheep or goat, inspiring some of the common names. The Nannyberry is drought tolerant and easily grown in average, medium soils. When the flowers go away in the fall, blue-black berry-like drupes appear. This shrub has ovate and finely-toothed glossy dark green leaves, which change to yellow, red, and purple colors in autumn.

    • Latin Name: Viburnum lentago
    • Other Common Names: Sweet viburnum, sheepberry
    • Native to: Eastern North America
    • USDA Zones: 2-8
    • Height: 12-18' tall
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  • 10 of 13

    Snowball Bush

    This is a sterile cultivar of snowball bush known as 'Roseum'
    F.D. Richards/Flickr

    While there are several species of Viburnum that may use the name "snowball bush," Viburnum opulus is the most commonly referred to one. Its white flowers are produced in large round clusters, hence the snowball name, and the scarlet fruit somewhat resembles a cranberry. This looks very similar to the hydrangea, but is larger, multi-stemmed, and deeply veined. Both, however, are low-maintenance and trouble-free plants.

    • Latin Name: Viburnum opulus
    • Other Common Names: European high-bush cranberry, Guelder rose, cramp bark, snowball tree, water elder, rose elder, red elder
    • Native to: Asia and Europe
    • USDA Zones: 3-8
    • Height: 8-15' tall
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  • 11 of 13

    Southern Arrowwood

    Butterflies are drawn to the southern arrowwood
    FritzFlohrReynolds/Flickr

    If you have a spot in your garden that receives partial shade, the Southern Arrowwood will be a good choice. This shrub can get tall and has multiple, erect-arching stems in a loose and round area. You can find white and flat-topped flower clusters with lustrous green foliage that turns several colors in the fall. In fact, the fruits of this species are blue when mature and can contrast nicely against the fall foliage.

    • Latin Name: Viburnum dentatum
    • Other Common Names: Roughish viburnum, Arrowwood viburnum
    • Native to: Eastern North America
    • USDA Zones: 3-8
    • Height: 6-10' tall
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  • 12 of 13

    Tubeflower Viburnum

    This species has flowers that are tubular in shape.
    Peganum/Flickr

    One feature that makes the Tubeflower viburnum stand out is the waxy coating on the leaves. In fact, if marks are made on the leaves, they will remain there. You can also expect this bold evergreen species to have long drooping leaves, with a rounded and spreading habitat. As the name suggests, the fragrant flowers are quite tubular in shape and become black drupes after pollination.

    • Latin Name: Viburnum cylindricum. This may also be listed as Viburnum coriaceum.
    • Native to: China, the Indian subcontinent, Indo-China, and Malaysia
    • USDA Zones: 6-10
    • Height: 10-16' tall
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  • 13 of 13

    Wayfaring Tree

    Wayfare Shrub
    This shrub can be invasive. F.D. Richards/Flickr

    The Wayfaring tree is a large and rounded shrub frequently chosen for its adaptability and reliability. You can expect thick and dark green leaves, white spring flowers, and "leggy" plants. However, this tree may be invasive in some areas, so it's important to ask about that at your local nursery or extension office before planting. Thankfully, it does well under drought conditions.

    • Latin Name: Viburnum lantana
    • Other Common Names: Wayfaringtree viburnum, hoarwithy
    • Native to: Europe, Asia, and Africa
    • USDA Zones: 4-7
    • Height: 10-15' tall, sometimes more