12 Species of Viburnum Shrubs

Close-up image of the beautiful spring flowering, scented Viburnum white flowers
Jacky Parker Photography / Getty Images

If you're looking for a flowering shrub that will add beauty to your landscape, one of the popular viburnum shrubs may be a great addition. The Viburnum genus is found within the Adoxaceae family of plants, though it used to be in the Caprifoliaceae (honeysuckle) family. Some members of this family, comprising more than 150 species, feature opposite branching, which is useful for identification purposes. They can be either evergreen or deciduous, depending on the species and location where they're growing.

Many viburnums put on a showy display, producing white (sometimes tinged with pink) flowers in clusters called corymbs. 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 mildly toxic.

Here are 12 popular species of viburnum, sure to make a lovely addition for your landscape.

Gardening Tip

Moderation is key when it comes to growing viburnums successfully. These plants thrive in average soil conditions, have moderate (weekly) watering needs, have moderate feeding requirements (once each season), and prefer moderate weather conditions (neither too hot nor too cold). No wonder these easygoing shrubs are so popular.

  • 01 of 12

    Burkwood Viburnum (Viburnum x burkwoodii)

    Burkwood viburnum

    Robert Murray / Getty Images

    The Burkwood viburnum, also known as snowball viburnum, was produced when the Korean spice viburnum (Viburnum carlesii) and the service viburnum (Viburnum utile) were crossed. This species features large, balled flower clusters full of fragrance. You may want to plant several of these shrubs together, which will translate to better pollination and fruit production for fall color.

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrid; parent species are native to Asia
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5–8
    • Height: 8–10 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full, Partial
  • 02 of 12

    Cinnamon-Leaved Viburnum (Viburnum cinnamomifolium)

    Cinnamon-leaved viburnum

    Peganum/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

    The leaves on the cinnamon-leaved viburnum, an evergreen shrub, are similar to those of the camphor tree (Cinnamomum camphora). An Award of Garden Merit winner from the Royal Horticultural Society, this shrub has opposite leaves that are simple, thick, dark blue, and oval. It grows very large and upright, with long petioles (leafstalks) and open flower clusters.

    • Native Area: Western China
    • USDA Growing Zones: 7–9
    • Height: 10–20 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full, Partial
  • 03 of 12

    David Viburnum (Viburnum davidii)

    David viburnum
    Imladris01 / Getty Images

    The David is a smaller evergreen viburnum, named for the Jesuit missionary, Jean Pierre Armand David, who discovered it. It has glossy, dark leaves and small white flowers that lead to small turquoise-blue fruit. Avoid placing the David viburnum in full sun with a southern exposure because it might burn the leaves.

    • Native Area: Western China
    • USDA Growing Zones: 7–9
    • Height: 2–5 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full, Partial
  • 04 of 12

    Henry's Viburnum (Viburnum henryi)

    Henry's viburnum

    Wlcutler/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Henry's viburnum shrub can be trained into a small tree by pruning away competing leaders to establish a single trunk. This moderately fast-growing shrub was discovered by botanist Augustine Henry. Its evergreen leaves are reddish when young and shift to green, and this plant is especially attractive to bees, butterflies, and birds due to its fragrant flowers.

    • Native Area: Southwest China
    • USDA Growing Zones: 7–10
    • Height: 7–15 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Partial
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  • 05 of 12

    Korean Spice Viburnum (Viburnum carlesii)

    Korean Spice viburnum
    Jennifer McClure / Getty Images

    Korean spice is a diminutive species of viburnum with white or pink flowers that add a spiced scent to your landscape. This deciduous species provides changing colors, too, in the fall when its large clusters of waxy flowers with bright red berries fade to black. Many plant this viburnum shrub near windows, patios, and living areas for the fragrance alone.

    • Native Area: Japan, Korea
    • USDA Growing Zones: 4–7
    • Height: 3–6 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full, Partial
  • 06 of 12

    Laurustinus Viburnum (Viburnum tinus)

    Laurustinus viburnum
    IHervas / Getty Images

    The leaves on the laurustinus viburnum are much like those of the bay laurel (Laurus nobilis), prompting the common name. This beautiful evergreen shrub has glossy dark-green foliage, a light fragrance, and pink-white flowers. In warmer areas, it will bloom during the winter.

    • Native Area: Mediterranean, northern Africa
    • USDA Growing Zones: 8–10
    • Height: 6–12 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full, Partial
  • 07 of 12

    Leatherleaf Viburnum (Viburnum rhytidophyllum)

    Leatherleaf viburnum
    Alexander Denisenko / Getty Images

    The leatherleaf viburnum does well in any soil as it can adapt to both acidic and alkaline pH values. This shrub creates flat cyme clusters of creamy white flowers in the spring as well as berries in the early fall. It's either evergreen or deciduous, depending on the climate in which it's grown.

    • Native Area: Central and western China
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5–8
    • Height: 6–10 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full, Partial
  • 08 of 12

    Nannyberry (Viburnum lentago)

    Nannyberry
    Ce Visual Artist / Getty Images

    You can eat nannyberries straight from the plant or cook them to make jams and jellies. Some think this viburnum shrub smells like a sheep or a goat, inspiring the common name sheepberry. It's drought tolerant and easily grown in average, medium soils. When the flowers drop in the fall, blue-black, berry-like drupes appear. This multistemmed shrub has oval, finely toothed leaves that change from glossy dark green to yellow, red, and purple in autumn.

    • Native Area: Eastern North America
    • USDA Growing Zones: 2–8
    • Height: 14–16 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full, Partial
    Continue to 9 of 12 below.
  • 09 of 12

    Snowball Bush (Viburnum opulus)

    Snowball bush
    Michele Ursi / Getty Images

    While there are several species of viburnum called the snowball bush, Viburnum opulus is the most common. Its white flowers are produced in large round clusters, and the scarlet fruit somewhat resembles a cranberry (thus, it's also known as the European cranberrybush). This multistemmed plant looks very similar to the hydrangea, but it's larger, and its leaves are deeply veined. This plant is considered invasive in many areas, so planting it is discouraged in the United States from the Northeast to the upper Midwest.

    • Native Area: Europe, northwestern Africa, Asia Minor, Caucasus, central Asia
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–8
    • Height: 8–15 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full, Partial
  • 10 of 12

    Arrowwood Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum)

    Arrowwood viburnum

     

    Deb Perry / Getty Images

    If you have a spot in your garden that receives part shade, the arrowwood viburnum is a good choice to fill it. This shrub can grow quite tall and has multiple, erect-arching stems that form a loose, round growth habit. White and flat-topped flower clusters with lustrous green foliage turn several colors in the fall. The fruits of this viburnum shrub are blue when mature and contrast nicely with the autumn foliage.

    • Native Area: Eastern North America
    • USDA Growing Zones: 2–8
    • Height: 6–10 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full, Partial
  • 11 of 12

    Tubeflower Viburnum (Viburnum cylindricum)

    Tubeflower viburnum

    Peganum/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

    One feature that makes the tubeflower viburnum stand out is the waxy coating on its leaves. In fact, if marks are made on the leaves, they'll remain. This bold evergreen species has long drooping leaves with a rounded and spreading habit. As the name suggests, the fragrant flowers are tubular in shape and become black drupes after pollination.

    • Native Area: China, Indian subcontinent, Indo-China, Malaysia
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5–9
    • Height: 10–16 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full, Partial
  • 12 of 12

    Wayfaring Tree (Viburnum lantana)

    Wayfaring tree
    Javier Fernández Sánchez / Getty Images

    The wayfaring tree is a large, rounded specimen frequently chosen for its adaptability and reliability. It has thick, dark-green leaves; white spring flowers; and a "leggy" growth habit. This viburnum tree does well under drought conditions, but it may be invasive in some areas. So, it's important to do your research and ask about that at your local nursery.

    • Native Area: Europe, Western Asia, North Africa
    • USDA Zones: 4–8
    • Height: 10–15 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full, Partial