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TREES & plants

Downy arrowwood

Downy arrowwood is a little known native viburnum that has ornamental characteristics similar to the more commonly planted southern arrowwood (creamy white flowers and red fall color).  May be difficult to find in local nurseries.

Botanical name: 
Viburnum rafinesquianum
All Common Names: 
Downy arrowwood, downy arrowwood viburnum. Missouri viburnum, rafineesque viburnum
Family (English): 
Family (Botanic): 
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Shrub
Native Locale: 
  • Chicago area
  • Illinois
  • North America
Landscape Uses: 
  • Massing
  • Hedge
  • Mixed border
Size Range: 
  • Medium shrub (5-8 feet)
Light Exposure: 
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 3
  • Zone 4
  • Zone 5
  • Zone 6
Soil Preference: 
  • Alkaline soil
  • Dry soil
  • Moist, well-drained soil
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
Season of Interest: 
  • Mid spring
  • Late spring
  • Early fall
  • Mid fall
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • White
Shape or Form: 
  • Multi-stemmed
  • Oval
  • Round
Growth Rate: 
  • Moderate
More Information: 


3 to 6 feet high and wide

Tree & Plant Care

Prune after flowering

Disease, pests, and problems

No serious problems

Native geographic location and habitat

C-Value: 5

Common in wooded areas

Bark color and texture 

Smooth, gray brown with obvious lenticels

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Simple leaves in pairs (opposite)

Dark green with distinct teeth along the margins

Fall color is purplish red

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Cream white flowers in flat-topped to slightly domed clusters

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Berry-like fruit (drupes) ripening to bluish black