Viburnum L.

Viburnum is a genus of ca. 210 species from the temperate and warm regions of the world (Mabberley 2008). It is best represented in North America and Asia. Two species are native in Belgium: Viburnum lantana L. and V. opulus L. (Lambinon & Verloove 2012). About 30-35 species and hybrids are cultivated as ornamentals in Europe (De Koning & al. 2000, Gardner & Malécot 2000, Roloff & Bärtels 2006, De Langhe 2012), including both native species. Most produce berries that are very attractive to birds and are thus potential escapes. In addition to those treated below several others are also commonly grown, for instance Viburnum carlesii Hemsl., V. farreri Stearn and their numerous hybrids.

Bird-sown plants of (presumably) Viburnum lantana and V. opulus might hide related, non-native taxa and should be carefully assessed (see Sell 2007, Stace 2010a). Records of the former might refer to the Asian Viburnum veitchii C.H. Wright. Likewise, Viburnum opulus is possibly confused with V. sargentii Koehne and V. trilobum Marshall. Finally, a remarkable cultivar of Viburnum opulus with all flowers sterile and large and arranged in a globose panicle (cv ‘Roseum’) is frequently cultivated and has been recorded as an escape along river Leie near Wervik (French side of the river).

A very useful vegetative key to the species cultivated in Belgium (and elsewhere in western Europe) is provided by De Langhe (2012).

1       Leaves distinctly 3(-5-) lobed, deciduous. Inflorescence with enlarged sterile marginal flowers (native) === Viburnum opulus

         Leaves entire to serrate, never lobed, evergreen or deciduous. Enlarged sterile flowers absent or present === 2

2       Leaves deciduous, ovate to obovate, less than twice as long as broad === 3

         Leaves (semi-) evergreen, narrowly ovate to oblong, at least twice as long as wide === 4

3       Inflorescence with enlarged outer sterile flowers. Leaves stellate hairy beneath but not densely so === V. plicatum

         All florets fertile, enlarged outer sterile florets absent. Leaves densely stellate hairy beneath (native) === V. lantana

4       Leaves smooth and glossy on upper side, ca. 7-9 x 3-4 cm. Young twigs and lower side of leaves glabrous to sparsely hairy, never tomentose, stellate hairs few or absent. Berry dark blue, turning black. Flowering in autumn and winter === V. tinus

         Leaves slightly or much wrinkled and dull on upper side, ca. 7-20 x 3-5 cm. Young twigs and lower side of leaves distinctly hairy to tomentose, with numerous stellate hairs. Berry red, turning black. Flowering in spring and early summer === 5

5       Leaves heavily wrinkled (veins deeply impressed), fully evergreen, more than 3x as long as wide === V. rhytidophyllum

         Leaves slightly wrinkled (veins slightly impressed), semi-evergreen (part of the leaves always deciduous), less than 3x as long as wide === V. xrhytidophylloides


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Taxonomic name: 
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith