Wayfaring tree

White flower cluster of Wayfaring tree viburnum

Wayfaring tree is a large rounded shrub often used for its adaptability and reliability.  Thick, dark green leaves, white spring flowers, and beautiful clusters of red to yellow to black berries add to the ornamental appeal. Plants often appear ‘leggy,’ so use near the back of the border, in mass, or in groupings.  A good plant for naturalizing.

This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.

Botanical name:

Viburnum lantana

All Common Names:

Wayfaring tree

Family (English):


Family (Botanic):


Tree or Plant Type:

  • Shrub,
  • Tree


  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)

Native Locale:

  • Non-native

Landscape Uses:

  • Hedge,
  • Massing,
  • Mixed border,
  • Patio/sidewalk,
  • Screen,
  • Utility

Size Range:

  • Compact tree (10-15 feet),
  • Large shrub (more than 8 feet),
  • Medium shrub (5-8 feet)

Light Exposure:

  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

  • Zone 4,
  • Zone 5 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7

Soil Preference:

  • Moist, well-drained soil

Season of Interest:

  • Late spring,
  • Early summer,
  • Mid summer,
  • Late summer

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • White

Shape or Form:

  • Multi-stemmed,
  • Round

Growth Rate:

  • Moderate

More Information:

Size & Form

Plants grow 10 to 15 feet high and wide.
Irregular to rounded habit, often "leggy" at the bottom.

Tree & Plant Care

Adaptable to part shade to full sun, best in well drained soil.
Flowers on old stems, prune after flowering.

Disease, pests, and problems

No serious problems.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to Europe and Asia.

Wayfaringtree (Viburnum lantana)
Wayfaringtree (Viburnum lantana)
photo: John Hagstrom

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Opposite,  simple oblong leaves with a wrinkled appearance. Surface of leaves are very pubescent, fuzzy to the touch.
Dark blue-green to medium green in summer, thick-textured leaves seldom develop good fall color.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Small, creamy white flowers in flat-topped to slightly-domed clusters in spring.
Not fragrant, often malodorous.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Berry-like fruits (drupes) changing from yellow to red and black often with all color on the same cluster.
Fruiting is maximized when different cultivars are in close proximity.

Cultivars and their differences

Mohican Wayfaring tree viburnum (Viburnum lantana ‘Mohican’): A compact, 8 to 10 feet high and wide, rounded shrub;  thick, leathery, dark green leaves turn a purplish-red fall color.  Attractive orange-red fruit in early July maintains good color for 4 weeks or more.

Variegatum Wayfaring viburnum (Viburnum lantana 'Variegatum'): Compact, 8 to 10 feet high and wide; dark green leaves with flecks of chartreuse, lime and gold. Best planted in part shade to full shade to avoid leaf burn.

Location of Viburnum lantana (Wayfaring tree) at the Arboretum