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Trees With Flowers Or Fruits - The Viburnums

( Originally Published 1927 )

The honeysuckle family, which includes a multitude of ornamental shrubs, furnishes two genera with three representatives. Handsome foliage, showy flowers, and at-tractive fruits justify the popularity of this family in gardens and parks.

The viburnums are distributed over the Northern Hemisphere and extend into the tropics. There are about one hundred species, including the old-fashioned snowball bush, perhaps the best-known species in this country. Discriminating gardeners have replaced it by the Japanese snowball, because the latter has much more handsome foliage and perfect flowers, instead- of the barren flower cluster that has nothing to show for itself once the bloom is past. This new species wears the autumn decoration of bright red berries well into the winter.

The Sheepberry

Viburnum lentago, Linn.

In our native woods the sheepberry is a small round-headed tree, with slim, drooping branches and oval leaves, finely cut-toothed and tapering to wavy-winged petioles. In autumn these leathery leaves change to orange and red, their shiny surfaces contrasting with the dull lining, pitted with black dots. The fruit, a loose cluster of dark blue berries, on branching red stems, is an attractive color contrast, and the birds flutter in the trees until they have eaten the last one. The fragrant white flowers light up the tree from April to June with their flat clusters three to five inches across. The opposite arrangement of the leaves, and that short-winged petiole identify the little tree, whether it grows by the swamp borders, along the streams, or in parks and gardens. At any season it is good to look upon. Its range covers the eastern half of the country, extending almost to the Gulf of Mexico and west into Wyoming.

The Rusty Nannyberry

V. rufidulum, Raff.

The rusty nannyberry is easily distinguished by the rusty hairs that clothe its new shoots and the stems and veins of the leaves. White flower clusters are succeeded by bright blue berries of unusual size and brilliance, ripe in October, on red-stemmed pedicles. The handsome polished leaves are rounded at the tips. The wood of this little tree has a very unpleasant odor, but this trait has no bearing upon its merits as a garden ornament. It is found wild from Virginia to Illinois and southward. In cultivation it is hardy in the latitude of Boston.

The Black Haw

V. prunifolium, Linn.

The black haw has the characteristic flowers and fruit of its genus, but is smaller throughout than the other two, and its branches are stout. In European parks and gardens it is known as the "stagbush." Its fruit turns dark when dead ripe, and persists well into the winter. In the wilds, this little viburnum is found from southern New England to Michigan, and south to Georgia and Texas.

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