A New Favorite: Blackhaw Viburnum
By TJ Nagel
My palette of favorite trees is always changing. This spring, while I was hiking in Noble county’s Wolf Run State park another woody plant found its way onto my list: Blackhaw viburnum, Viburnum prunifolium. I have admired this plant for years for being native, for its adaptability, ease of establishment, its ability to easily naturalize into new areas, and because it provides forage for birds, bees and butterflies. I have observed Blackhaw viburnum in arboreta, gardens, and native area across the state but this past weekend it really stood out to me in the woods amongst the redbuds, dogwoods and other spring flowering plants.
I observed some that were shrubbier in appearance like typical viburnum and others that had grown into small trees, reminiscent of Hawthorn (as pictured). The flowers were a beautiful creamy white, the foliage a lustrous green and the bark stood out with interesting characteristics that reminded me of mature Black Tupelo or Persimmon. The sun was shining, and the pollinators were out - it was a perfect afternoon in the woods.
I think this is an important plant to consider for those of you with wooded sites and for folks looking for native plants to add to their landscape. Blackhaw viburnum can be used as a specimen tree, in shrub borders or in groupings. I see it thriving in full sun to full shade and it could make a great replacement plant for anyone working to eradicate amur honeysuckle, privet, burning bush or autumn olive from native areas. The flowers give way to a pinkish fruit that matures in late summer to a bluish black edible drupe that can be appreciated by both wildlife and humans. This fall I’m going to try my hand at viburnum pie - I’ll let you know how it comes out.
On a separate note - check out this small garter snake I found sunbathing in my weeping Serbian spruce. It was about four feet off the ground and sat in this spot for several hours while I worked around it in the garden.
TJ Nagel | Production Manager, Russell Tree Experts
ISA Certified Arborist® OH-6298A // Graduated from The Ohio State University in 2012, Earned B.S. in Agriculture with a major in Landscape Horticulture and minor in Entomology // Tree Risk Assessment Qualified (TRAQ) // Russell Tree Experts Arborist Since 2010