Highbush Cranberry, Viburnum trilobum

Highbush Cranberry

Viburnum trilobum

Benefits: Pollinator Benefit Graphic
Sun Shade: Plant Light Requirements Graphic
Bloom Time: Late Spring/Early Summer
Hardiness Zones: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
Soil Conditions: Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil Moisture: Medium, Moist
Color: White
Fragrance: No
Height: 8-15 feet
Spacing: 10 feet

Highbush Cranberry (Viburnum trilobum) is a shrub with multiple narrow trunks and ascending to slightly spreading branches. The bark of trunks and branches is gray, while twigs are brown and glabrous with white lenticels. Young non-woody shoots are green to reddish green and glabrous. Pairs of opposite leaves occur along the shoots and twigs. Individual leaves are 2-4 inches long and nearly as much across (oval in outline). They are palmately 3-lobed, and sparingly dentate to smooth along their margins. There are either a few large teeth or they are absent altogether. The shallow to moderately deep lobes have pointed tips, while the base of each leaf is rounded. The upper leaf surface is medium green and hairless, while the lower surface is pale green and either hairless or hairy along the veins. The slender petioles are ¾-1½ inches long, light green to red, and glabrous. Near the apex of each petiole where it joins the leaf, there are 1-2 pairs of tiny glands with rounded tops. These glands may become deformed or nearly disappear as the season progresses. At the base of each petiole, there is a pair of simple stipules. They are deciduous and insignificant. The blooming period occurs during late spring to early summer and lasts about 3-4 weeks. The floral scent is unpleasant. The fertile flowers are replaced by one-seeded drupes that are about 1/3-inch across. They become bright red at maturity during late summer or early fall. Individual seeds are about 5 mm. across, nearly orbicular in shape, and flattened. The flesh of the drupes is tart. The root system is woody and branching. During autumn, the deciduous leaves become bright red.

Habitats consist of cool moist woodlands, streambanks in wooded areas, sandy swamps, soggy thickets, edges of sandy marshes, forested bogs, and roadside ditches. American Cranberry Bush is occasionally cultivated as an ornamental landscape plant. Outside of cultivation, this shrub is usually found in high quality wetlands where the native flora is still intact.

The preference is full sun to light shade, wet to moist conditions, and a boreal climate with cool to moderately warm summers. The soil should contain decaying organic matter to retain moisture.

Although often called "highbush cranberry", it is not a cranberry. The name comes from the red fruits which look superficially like cranberries, and have a similar flavor and ripen at the same time of year. The fruits, sour and rich in vitamin C, can be eaten raw or cooked into a sauce to serve with meat or game

 Plant Notes and Herbal Uses
  The bright red fruit is eaten by birds, particularly during the winter when other sources of food are scarce.
 Further Information

 Wisconsin Fruit Trees
 Wisconsin Edible Berry Shrubs
 Widsconsin Edible Plants-Eat On The Wild Side
 8 Dandelion Recipes
 Wisconsin Native Plant Nurseries

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