American Cranberry

American Cranberry brightens the spring landscape in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

American Cranberry brightens the spring landscape (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

If my back yard birds got to vote on which trees they favor most for habitat and berries, I know the American Cranberry, Viburnum trilobum, would be at the top of their list (it is certainly on the top of mine). American Cranberry is a large shrub capable of reaching over 15 feet tall-and it grows quickly-in my garden it grew over 10 feet within eight years. It has a rounded, dense form which is perfect for birds to nest, while providing a fabulous natural hedge.

Cranberry Viburnum's lush foliage in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Cranberry Viburnum’s lush foliage (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

American Cranberry, native to moist thickets, low woods and swamps from Newfoundland to British Columbia south to Washington, Iowa, Ohio and Pennsylvania, is a beautiful addition to any landscape desiring spring flowers, summer berries and gorgeous foliage. Are you intrigued yet? What if I told you Viburnum trilobum is extremely easy to grow, requires little maintenance (I prune out some suckers each spring), and will grow in full sun to part shade?

Cranberry Viburnum's spring blossoms in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Cranberry Viburnum’s spring blossoms (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Still need some convincing? Alright, let’s begin with the spring spectacular; starting in late May the entire tree is decorated with flat-topped clusters of white blossoms (similar to lace cap hydrangea) that are several inches in diameter. The flowers are not only alluring to humans, their nectar attracts butterflies, bees and other pollinators as well. The foliage provides a perfect accompaniment to the lovely flowers, with maple shaped leaves tinged with red as they unfold.

Cranberry Viburnum with Eupatorium in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Cranberry Viburnum with Eupatorium (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Once the summer arrives, the flowers are transformed into clusters of berries that start out tinged with yellow or white, eventually ripening to a garnet red, thus communicating to the local avian population that it’s time to stop by for a snack. Depending on the year, some berries are consumed immediately while others are left for later in the season-often lasting well into winter. Through the hottest of days of summer, Viburnum trilobum‘s foliage remains a healthy shade of dark green with a slightly luminescent sheen, allowing this small tree to truly shine in the landscape.

Dwarf Cranberry Viburnum's fall colors in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Dwarf Cranberry Viburnum’s fall colors in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

When fall arrives, American Cranberry viburnum offers a dramatic finale with a display of colorful foliage ranging from gold to the darkest merlot. The leaves hold until late autumn, so keep this tree in close proximity so as not to miss the season’s climax. Especially if some of the berries have not yet been nibbled, as they lend a tantalizing contrast of bright crimson orbs commingling amongst the russet leaves.

Viburnum 'Bailey Compact' in the border in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Viburnum ‘Bailey Compact’ in the border (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Don’t have enough space for the big girl? Or perhaps you would like to plant one in your garden border instead of in the yard? Anything is possible with American Cranberry, as it also comes in a dwarf form; Viburnum trilobum ‘Bailey Compact’ (I love the little ones so much, I have three!). Offering the same radiant flowers in spring, lush foliage and berries in summer, and an equally thrilling fall exhibition; all available with the smaller sibling which tops out between 4 to 6 feet tall and wide. Both the large and small cranberry thrive in zones 3-7, with full sun to part shade and average soil. So, what are you waiting for?

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

A Garden for All