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.
All Common Names:
Tree or Plant Type:
- Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- Chicago area,
- North America
- Mixed border,
- Compact tree (10-15 feet),
- Large shrub (more than 8 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
- Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
- Zone 3,
- Zone 4,
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7,
- Zone 8,
- Zone 9
- Moist, well-drained soil
- Dry sites,
- Occasional drought,
- Alkaline soil,
- Clay soil
Season of Interest:
- Mid spring,
- Late spring,
- Early fall,
- Mid fall
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
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
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
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