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European Cranberrybush Viburnum (Guelder Rose), Viburnum opulus



Authors as Published

Alex X. Niemiera, Professor, School of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Virginia Tech (first published November 2010, last reviewed November 2023)


Foliage: 4-inch long 3-lobed leaves; deciduous

Height: About 10 feet tall

Spread: About 10 feet

Shape: Upright, rounded habit; will sucker to form a thicket

Main features: Cranberrybush viburnum is a large deciduous shrub with showy flowers in May and showy fruit for a few weeks in the fall; fall foliage color can be good but is inconsistent unless a cultivar is selected. There are several cultivars that are superior to the species (noted in the Additional Information section). This species is quite adaptable to an array of conditions (e.g., wet to dry soil, alkaline); older plants will sucker to form thickets. A few states list this species as an invasive species but NatureServe has not given this species an invasive ranking.

Plant Needs:

Zone: 3 to 8

Light: Full sun to part shade

Moisture: Wet to dry

Soil type: Adapts to most soils

pH: Acid to alkaline


This species is somewhat informal in appearance and is best used in mass, in a border, or as a screen.


No special care is needed with the exception of rejuvenation pruning older plants to reduce the sprawling, unkempt appearance.

Additional Information:

There are several cultivars in the trade that are superior to the species, a few are: ‘Compactum’ a dense, compact form that is about one-half of the size of the species (to 6 feet tall); has a good fall foliage color

‘Roseum’ this cultivar differs from the species in that it has a tremendous show of white globe- shaped flowers (species has lacecap-type flowers)

‘Xanthocarpum’ a compact form with yellow fruit

American cranberrybush (Viburnum trilobum) which is considered by some to be a subspecies of the European cranberry bush (V. opulus), hence listed as V. opulus var. americanum) is quite similar to European cranberrybush viburnum. The American cranberry bush is best used in zones 2 to 6 (usually suffers from the heat of zone 7). Despite a flower and fruit show that rivals, and perhaps exceeds, European cranberrybush, American cranberry bush is less available than its European counterpart. There are several cultivars of American cranberrybush; in the event local garden centers do not carry this species (or cultivars thereof), one may have to obtain plants through a mail order nursery.

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Publication Date

November 6, 2023