Another woefully underutilized small tree that is loaded with numerous attributes is Blackhaw Viburnum, or Viburnum prunifolium, a native of North America which naturally occurs in moist woods and along stream banks. Its range is from southern Canada to the Gulf of Mexico which is a good indication of its impressive adaptability. This is a shapely, small tree that typically grows 12 to 15 feet tall, though some have grown to as much as 30 ft. Rounded in outline, with a short trunk, and gracefully arching branches, it produces showy clusters of small, white flowers in spring followed by pink berries which fade to dark blue by autumn. These are not only ornamental but edible, if you can beat the birds to them, for this tree is a windfall for wildlife. And the attractive, dark-green foliage of summer turns a rich, reddish-purple in autumn.

Blackhaw viburnum has relatively coarse texture which will contrast nicely with plants with finer foliage. It's a low maintenance shrub/tree, and should only be pruned after flowering. It is an excellent choice for attracting birds to your garden, but is not particularly attractive to deer who tend to leave it alone in favor of tastier treats. It has no significant negative characteristics and lends itself to being a specimen or in a naturalistic setting. It is adaptable to both dry or wet conditions, shade or sun and is not particular about soil pH and tolerates urban pollution.

It thrives across most of North America, the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

As usual, this special tree will not be found in the popular landscape nurseries but more likely in a specialty, mail-order nursery.


Blackhaw viburnum

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