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Lustrous elliptical leaves and white flowers of Witherod viburnum

Witherod viburnum is a large, upright-spreading, suckering shrub, native to North America.  It tolerates both shady and wet sites, excellent for shrub borders, naturalizing and woodland sites.  It may be difficult to find in nurseries.

A related species, Possum-haw (Viburnum nudum), is listed at the bottom of this page.

Botanical name:

Viburnum cassinoides

All common names:

Witherod, Witherod viburnum, Swamp viburnum, Appalachian tea viburnum, wild raisin

Family (English):


Family (Botanic):


Tree or Plant Type:

  • Shrub

Native Locale:

  • North America

Landscape Uses:

  • Massing,
  • Mixed border

Size Range:

  • 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 3,
  • Zone 4,
  • Zone 5 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7,
  • Zone 8

Soil Preference:

  • Acid soil,
  • Moist, well-drained soil,
  • Wet soil


  • Wet sites,
  • Occasional flooding,
  • Road salt

Seasons of Interest:

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

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • White

Shape or Form:

  • Arching,
  • Multi-stemmed,
  • Round

Growth Rate:

  • Slow,
  • Moderate

More Information:

Size & form

A dense compact suckering shrub which grows 6 to 15 feet high and wide.
Often confused with Possum-haw (Viburnum nudum).

Tree & Plant Care

Grows in part shade, tolerant of full sun with adequate soil moisture.
Prefers wet, acidic sites, but will tolerate moist, well-drained soil.
Prune after flowering.

Disease, pests, and problems

None serious

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to the Northeastern United States and states along the Gulf Coast.
Often found in bogs and swamps.

Bark color and texture 

Smooth, gray-brown bark dotted with lenticels.

Witherod (Viburnum cassinoides)
Witherod (Viburnum cassinoides)
photo: John Hagstrom

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Opposite; simple 3 to 4 inch long, elliptical leaves with short pointed tips and finely serrated teeth margins.
Medium green, with rust-colored dots along mid-rib and leaf base.
Fall color ranges from orange to red to purple.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Small creamy white flowers in flat-topped clusters.
Unpleasantly scented.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Berry like fruit changes from green to yellow, then pink, red and black.
All colors may be present in the same fruit cluster.
Fruit tends to persist through much of fall.

Related species and their differences

Possum-Haw or Smooth Witherod (Viburnum nudum): A dense, 8 to 12 feet high shrub with upright, arching stems. Leaf surface has a waxy, shiny, medium green color that changes to an excellent reddish-purple fall color. The flat-topped, white flower clusters are followed by colorful, green to pink to blue fruit.  It is native to low woods, swamps and bog areas in Eastern and Southeastern U.S.


Location of Viburnum cassinoides (Witherod) at the Arboretum