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TREES & plants


Nannyberry, which is grown either as a large shrub or a small tree, is great for naturalizing.  This Midwest native is known for its exceptional maroon fall color.  Additionally, in September and October, blue-black fruit ripens and often persists into December, attracting more than 35 species of birds.  The birds also use nannyberry for nesting and cover.  

Botanical name: 
Viburnum lentago
All Common Names: 
Nannyberry, Nannyberry viburnum, Sheepberry
Family (English): 
Family (Botanic): 
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Shrub
  • Tree
Native Locale: 
  • Chicago area
  • Illinois
  • North America
Landscape Uses: 
  • Utility
  • Specimen
  • Massing
  • Mixed border
  • Screen
Size Range: 
  • Small tree (15-25 feet)
  • Compact tree (10-15 feet)
  • Large shrub (more than 8 feet)
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 3
  • Zone 4
  • Zone 5
  • Zone 6
  • Zone 7
Soil Preference: 
  • Dry soil
  • Moist, well-drained soil
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
Season of Interest: 
  • Late spring
  • Early fall
  • Mid fall
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • White
Shape or Form: 
  • Arching
  • Upright
Growth Rate: 
  • Moderate
More Information: 


15 to 20 feet high and 10 to 15 feet wide.

Tree & Plant Care

This plant has a moderate degree of salt tolerance; use in low exposed areas. Prune after flowering.

Disease, pests, and problems

Viburnum crown borer is a potential problem.

Native geographic location and habitat

C-Value: 5

Attracts birds, pollinators, or wildlife

Over 35 species of birds, including flycatcher, flicker, bluebird, grosbeak, and redpoll are attracted to this plant.  The birds are attracted to the fruit that ripens in the fall and often persists into December.  They also use this plant as a nesting site and for cover.

This plant is a caterpillar and larva host to the spring azure butterfly.

Bark color and texture 

Bark is dark, brownish-black with a blocky appearance

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Simple leaves in pairs (opposite), oval shaped and toothed with a winged leafstalk

Fall color is purplish red.

Nannyberry (Viburnum lentago)Nannyberry (Viburnum lentago)photo: John Hagstrom

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Small, creamy white flowers in flat-topped to slightly domed clusters.  Flowers have no fragrance.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Berry-like fruit (drupes) starting out yellow and red and maturing to blue or black.