Logo

TREES & Plants

Nannyberry

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): 
Elderberry
Family (Botanic): 
Adoxaceae
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Shrub
  • Tree
Foliage: 
  • Deciduous (foliage falls off)
Native Locale: 
  • Chicago area
  • Illinois
  • North America
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 3
  • Zone 4
  • Zone 5
  • Zone 6
  • Zone 7
Growth Rate: 
  • Medium
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Partial sun (4-6 hrs light daily)
Tolerances: 
  • Dry sites
  • Wet sites
  • Alkaline soil
Soil Preference: 
  • Dry soil
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • White
Size Range: 
  • Small tree (15-25 feet)
  • Compact tree (10-15 feet)
  • Large shrub (more than 8 feet)
Shape or Form: 
  • Arching
  • Upright
Landscape Uses: 
  • Specimen
  • Massing
  • Mixed border
  • Screen
Time of Year: 
  • Late spring
  • Early fall
  • Mid fall
More Information: 

Size

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

No serious problems, although powdery mildew can occur

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
  •  

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

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