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TREES & plants

Southern Arrowwood

Creamy white flower cluster of arrowwood viburnum

Southern arrowwood, also known as Arrowwood viburnum is valued for its durability and utility in the landscape.  Southern arrowwood's ornamental features include white, flat-topped flowers in late spring, ink-blue fruits in September, and wine-red fall color. The native shrub makes a great screen, informal hedge, and is useful in groupings and masses, or as filler in the border. 

This plant has some cultivated varieties and a related species listed below . Go to list of cultivars.

 

Botanical name: 
Viburnum dentatum
All Common Names: 
Southern arrowwood, Arrowwood viburnum, Downy arrowwood
Family (English): 
Elderberry
Family (Botanic): 
Adoxaceae
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Shrub
Foliage: 
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
Native Locale: 
  • Illinois, 
  • North America
Landscape Uses: 
  • Hedge, 
  • Massing, 
  • Mixed border, 
  • Screen, 
  • Specimen
Size Range: 
  • Large shrub (more than 8 feet), 
  • Medium shrub (5-8 feet), 
  • Small shrub (3-5 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 (Chicago), 
  • Zone 6, 
  • Zone 7, 
  • Zone 8
Soil Preference: 
  • Acid soil, 
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Season of Interest: 
  • Mid spring, 
  • Late spring, 
  • Early fall, 
  • Mid fall
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • White
Shape or Form: 
  • Arching, 
  • Mounded, 
  • Multi-stemmed, 
  • Thicket-forming, 
  • Upright
Growth Rate: 
  • Moderate, 
  • Fast
More Information: 

Size & Form

 A dense, multi-stemmed, rounded shrub reaching 6 to 10 feet high and 6 to 12 feet wide.

Tree & Plant Care

Best in full sun to part shade.
The shallow, fibrous root system benefits with a light layer of mulch to moderate soil temperature fluctuation and conserve moisture.
Renewal pruning and heading back may be necessary to keep this suckering plant in bounds.
Flowers on old stems, p
rune after flowering.

Disease, pests, and problems

Powdery mildew, leaf spots, viburnum leaf beetle, and verticillium wilt.

Disease, pest, and problem resistance

Considered fairly resistant to viburnum crown borer.
Moderate tolerance to aerial salt.
Tolerant of black walnut toxicity.

Native geographic location and habitat

Often found in wet or lowland areas, and at base of wooded ravines and along stream banks.
Native from MN to GA.

Attracts birds and butterflies

The late fruiting season appeals to many species of birds.
This plant is also a caterpillar and larval host to the hummingbird moth and a nectar source to red admiral butterflies.

Bark color and texture 

Gray brown bark with light fissuring bark.
Stems are known for being straight "as an arrow", hence the common name Arrowwood.

Southern arrowwood viburnum (Viburnum dentatum)Southern arrowwood viburnum (Viburnum dentatum)photo: John Hagstrom

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Opposite, simple leaves up to 4 inches long with prominent veins and toothed margins. 
Lustrous to glossy dark green leaves in summer, turn a wine-red fall color

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Creamy white flowers, flat-topped flower clusters, up to 4 inches in diameter, appear on branch tips.
Unpleasantly scented.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Upright terminal clusters of ink blue fruits ripen in fall.
Fruit set is heavier if other viburnum arrowwood cultivars are planted in close proximity to promote better pollination.
Cultivar selection does have to flower at the same time.

Southern arrowwood viburnum (Viburnum dentatum)Southern arrowwood viburnum (Viburnum dentatum)photo: John Hagstrom

Cultivars and their differences 

Autumn Jazz® arrowwood viburnum (Viburnum dentatum ‘Ralph Senior’):   Compact, vase-shaped form growing 8 to 10 feet high and 10 to 12 feet wide.  Glossy, dark green leaves turn a combination of yellow-orange-red –burgundy in the fall.   This cultivar is a Chicagoland Grows® introduction.

Blue Muffin™ arrowwod viburnum (Viburnum dentatum 'Christom'): A compact selection reaching 5 to 7 feet high and 6 to 8 feet wide. Medium green foliage turns a orange to red in fall. Intense blue berries in autumn.

Cardinal™ arrowwood viburnum (Viburnum dentatum 'KLMThree'): A Roy Klehm inroduction; 8 to 10 feet high and 6 to 8 feet wide; upright vase-shaped; burgundy fall colors turns bright red.

Chicago Lustre® arrowwood viburnum (Viburnum dentatum ‘Synnestvedt’):  This cultivar has a uniform, upright, rounded form reaching 8 to 10 feet high and 8 to 10 feet wide.   Lustrous, dark green leaves turn a mild red-purple in the fall.  This cultivar is a Chicagoland Grows® introduction.

Crimson Tide™ arrowwood viburnum (Viburnum dentatum 'KLMsix'): Upright, vase-shape reaching 8 to 10 feet tall and 6 to 8 feet wide; burgundy -red fall color.

Little Joe™ arrowwood viburnum (Viburnum dentatum 'KLMseventeen'): A dwarf, rounded form reaching 4 feet high and wide; purple green fall color. A good pollinator for Blue muffin arrowwood viburnum.

Northern Burgundy® arrowwood viburnum  (Viburnum dentatum ‘Morton’): An upright habit reaching 10 to 12 feet high and 8 to 10 feet wide. Glossy, dark green leaves turn a burgundy-red in the fall.   This cultivar is a Chicagoland Grows® introduction selected from The Morton Arboretum collections. 

Red Feather® arrowwood viburnum (Viburnum dentatum 'JN Select'): Rounded, 8 to 10 feet high and 10 to 12 feet wide; new growth is two-toned, maroon and green (resembles the feathers at base of arrow); 2 to 5 inch wide, white flower clusters followed by blue-black berries in autumn. Fall color is reddish-purple.

Related species and their differences

Kentucky Viburnum (Viburnum molle):  similar to Arrowwood viburnum (Viburnum dentatum), forms a rounded 8 to 12 foot high, upright shrub. The difference is it has gray to brown exfoliating bark. grows in limestone soils on rocky hills and bluffs in PA, AR, to MO. Difficult to find in nursery trade.

Viburnum dentatum or Southern Arrowwood