TREES & plants

Leatherleaf viburnum

Creamy white flowers of leatherleaf viburnum

Leatherleaf viburnum is considered a large, rough textured, evergreen shrub, but in northern climates it will lose its leaves in late autumn and often suffers stem dieback in cold winters.  While the creamy white flowers light up the spring landscape, this species offers no fall color change and very little fruiting.

Botanical name: 
Viburnum rhytidophyllum
All Common Names: 
Leatherleaf viburnum
Family (English): 
Family (Botanic): 
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Shrub, 
  • Tree
  • Evergreen (foliage year-round)
Native Locale: 
  • Non-native
Landscape Uses: 
  • Hedge, 
  • Massing, 
  • Mixed border, 
  • Specimen, 
  • Utility
Size Range: 
  • Compact tree (10-15 feet), 
  • Large shrub (more than 8 feet)
Light Exposure: 
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily), 
  • Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 5 (Chicago), 
  • Zone 6, 
  • Zone 7
Soil Preference: 
  • Acid soil, 
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Season of Interest: 
  • Early winter, 
  • Mid winter, 
  • Late winter, 
  • Early spring, 
  • Mid spring, 
  • Late spring, 
  • Early summer, 
  • Mid summer, 
  • Late summer, 
  • Early fall, 
  • Mid fall, 
  • Late fall
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Fragrant, 
  • White
Shape or Form: 
  • Multi-stemmed, 
  • Upright
Growth Rate: 
  • Moderate
More Information: 

Size & Form

A large upright to rounded, course-textured shrub reaching 10 to 15 feet high and wide.

Tree & Plant Care

Best in full sun with adequate, well-drained soil moisture.
Site in a protected area to avoid leaf and stem damage
Stem dieback often occurs when temperatures go below -10 degrees F
Prune after flowering.

Disease, pests, and problems

No serious pest problems.  Evergreen leaves are prone to winter damage.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to central and west China.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Leatherleaf viburnum (Viburnum rhytidophyllum)Leatherleaf viburnum leavesphoto: John Hagstrom

Opposite, dark green, oblong, 3 to 7 inches long, with a wrinkled, textured appearance.
Considered evergreen but loses leaves in late fall in norther climates.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Creamy white flowers in flat-topped to slightly domed, 4 to 8 inch clusters, with a slight fragrance.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Berry-like fruit (drupes), red maturing to black. Requires other viburnums for pollination and fruit set.

Viburnum rhytidophyllum or Leatherleaf viburnum