Saturday, June 6, 2015

Monthly Native Plant Profile: #1 Arrowwood Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum)

Arrowwood Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum)

This is one native shrub, that doesn't disappoint bird watchers, lay-gardeners, or native plant enthusiasts. The glossy dark green foliage stands out when in direct sunlight complemented by a textured ruffled appearance. It is often noted that the straight  growing pattern of the stems were utilized by Native Americans as arrow shafts, from which its name is derived. 

As is the case with most plants from the Viburnum genus, these shrubs respond well to rejuvenating pruning  making them a versatile plant for the formal or naturalistic home landscape. In their maturity they'll easily reach 10' tall, but can be maintained through proper pruning to as short as 4' in a horticultural setting.  They thrive in sub 6.5 ph soil, of which the Cincinnati Metropolitan has plenty of thanks to our glacial imports, upon which they occur naturally especially on the Illinoian till plain, associated with high water tables and the Pin Oak-Green Ash-Red Maple forest type. Riding around parts of Warren County, Eastern Hamilton County, and Clermont County you can see this shrub here and there, amongst seas of bush honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii), though it outcompetes Bush Honeysuckle in the understory/edge of the aforementioned Pin Oak-Green Ash-Red Maple forest type depending on the water table (my hypothesis).

Local genotypes of Arrowwod bloom from Early May through May, then quickly sets berries to be mature by August for migrating birds to utilize. According to Doug Tallamy's studies, the Viburnum genus supports at least 97 species of native Moths/Butterflies as a host plant, who's caterpillars are instrumental in moving energy up the food change as they're the predominant species that can consume the vegetation. 

If you're interested in planting for wildlife attraction/support, and/or beauty, consider this shrub as a possible foundational backbone of your planting.

(Arrowood is adapted to growing on wood edges, partially shaded conditions, and in the open.)

(Leaves can turn a soft pink, while the berries remain a rich blue coveted by native birds in the fall.)

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