fbpx Black-haw viburnum | The Morton Arboretum

Black-haw viburnum

Flat-topped flower cluster of black-haw viburnum

Black-haw viburnum is a large shrub or a small, native tree. In spring new leaves emerge copper-colored followed by white, flat-topped flowers. In fall, black fruits contrast with the pinkish-red foliage. A great plant for naturalized areas. 

This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.

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

Botanical name:

Viburnum prunifolium

All common names:

Black-haw, blackhaw, blackhaw viburnum

Family (English):


Family (Botanic):


Tree or Plant Type:

  • Shrub

Native Locale:

  • Chicago area,
  • Illinois,
  • North America

Landscape Uses:

  • Massing,
  • Mixed border,
  • Specimen

Size Range:

  • 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 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7,
  • Zone 8,
  • Zone 9

Soil Preference:

  • Moist, well-drained soil


  • Dry sites,
  • Occasional drought,
  • Alkaline soil,
  • Clay soil

Seasons of Interest:

  • mid spring,
  • late spring,
  • early fall,
  • mid fall

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Fragrant,
  • White

Shape or Form:

  • Multi-stemmed,
  • Round,
  • Upright

Growth Rate:

  • Slow,
  • Moderate

More Information:

Size & form

12 to 15 feet high and 8 to 12 feet wide
A large, suckering shrub or single-trunked tree

Tree & Plant Care

Adaptable to most sites, wet, dry, sun or shade.
Can form thickets
Flowers on old wood, prune after flowering

Tolerant of black walnut toxicity and aerial salt spray

Disease, pests, and problems

No serious problems

Native geographic location and habitat

C-Value: 5
Most common in woods and forest edges. Tolerant of roadside edges to stream banks.

Attracts birds & butterflies

Provides food and shelter to many bird species

Bark color and texture 

Mature bark is brownish and broken into a blocky pattern
Young stems are slender and straight with a pinkish bloom on reddish stems.
Leaf scars are V-shaped and slightly raised.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Opposite leaves up to 3 to 4 inches long, narrow to oval with serrated edges. Leaf tip pointed.
Leaf surface smooth and medium green with a lighter underside, Leaves turn reddish-purple in fall.
Often confused with Nannyberry (Viburnum lentago). Petioles are reddish but not winged like nannyberry.
Two types of terminal buds during winter months. 

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Small, creamy white flowers in flat-topped to slightly domed clusters, slightly fragrant.
Flower buds in winter are  larger, bulbous, pinkish at ends of stems.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
Black-haw (Viburnum prunifolium)
Black-haw fruit
photo: John Hagstrom

Berry-like fruits (drupes) turn a dark blue or black in fall

Cultivars and their differences

“This plant is a cultivar of a species that is native to the Chicago Region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research. Cultivars are plants produced in cultivation by selective breeding or via vegetative propagation from wild plants identified to have desirable traits."

Guardian™ black-haw viburnum (Viburnum prunifolium 'Guazam'): Upright habit grows 10 to 12 feet high and 6 to 8 feet wide, dark green foliage turns crimson-red in late fall

Forest Rouge™ black-haw viburnum (Viburnum prunifolium 'McKrouge'): Oval to upright small tree or large shrub reaching 8 to 10 feet high; outstanding maroon fall color

Summer Magic black-haw viburnum (Viburnum prunifolium  'Summer Magic'): Upright habit reaching 8 to 10 feet high and 6 to 8 feet wide; new growth emerges reddish-pink, leathery leaves turn yellow to red in fall

Location of Viburnum prunifolium (Black-haw viburnum) at the Arboretum