The text and images for this bygl-alert are by Paul Snyder, horticulturist with OSU’s Secreest Arboretum at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster}
It is typical this time of year to have many tour groups visit Secrest. Planted along some of the paths is a plant that makes everyone stop and say, ‘Wow, what is it?” If you are thinking it is a selection of Malus you are mistaken.
It is a native plant, Viburnum nudum, Smooth Witherod. Native to the eastern United States, it is still underused in the landscape. Michael Dirr states that the glossy green summer foliage becomes “maddeningly schizophrenic from plant to plant: green, yellow, red, purple, and combinations” (Viburnums. 2007. Pg. 123). More striking, however is the fruit.
Beginning in late September the fruit begins the magical transition from green to pink. Once the fruit turn pink, one by one each drupe will mature to a dark blue-purple. The time of transition is truly incredible and is the ‘wow’ factor about this plant. In addition, the fruit persist into winter and add interest to the landscape.
Plant two selections like Brandywine™ (‘Bulk’) and ‘Winterthur’ for the best fruit set.
Unlike some viburnum species, Viburnum nudum does not have a pleasing fragrance to its flowers. Yet the bees love the creamy-white flower nonetheless.
It is easily grown in average, moist, or wet acidic soils and can be planted in sun to part shade.
M. Dirr. Manual of Woody Landscape Plants, Sixth Edition. 2007. Stipes.
Missouri Botanical Garden, Plant Finder. http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=a659