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.
All Common Names:
Tree or Plant Type:
- Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- North America
- Mixed border,
- Large shrub (more than 8 feet),
- Medium shrub (5-8 feet),
- Small shrub (3-5 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
- Acid soil,
- Moist, well-drained soil
- Occasional drought,
- Occasional flooding,
- Clay soil,
- Road salt
Season of Interest:
- Mid spring,
- Late spring,
- Early fall,
- Mid fall
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
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, prune 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.
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.
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.
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.