Native Plant of the Week: Downy Arrowwood Viburnum ~ Viburnum rafinesquianum

Downy Arrowwood Viburnum ~ Viburnum rafinesquianum

This is one of my favorite Viburnums for its ability to thrive in shaded, dry locations as an understory shrub.

We discovered Downy Arrowwood Viburnum in our yard 2 years after we had moved in on the back slope of our property. It was the last place where we needed to remove European Buckthorn and I found a couple of small suckering patches under some large oaks.

This fall, it has been turning the most vibrant color ranging from deep wine to bright red. The leaves are very attractive with a definitive serrated edge and deeply veined surface.

This Viburnum is very similar in appearance to the Mid-Atlantic and southern native Viburnum dentatum ~ Southern Arrowwood Viburnum which we had planted at our old house in Maryland. I thought that I had found the same plant in our Minnesota yard but after consulting some books realized it was the Downy Arrowwood.

Downy Arrowwood flowers starting in late May through the middle of June in Minnesota. The flowers are flat topped clusters of 5 petaled white flowers.

The flowers form dark blue fruit in late August similar to the Nannyberry Viburnum. I have seen it growing in Central Minnesota to around 6 feet in height but according to Welby Smith's book Trees and Shrubs of Minnesota it can reach up to 10 feet in height.

This photo is a young plant which showed up in the back yard where we have naturalized which was formerly lawn.

These viburnums have a multistemmed and open form but require little pruning other than minimal shaping to keep shoots at similar heights.
If you have a well drained partly shaded spot for one of these Viburnums, I think it makes a great addition to any landscape.

In Minnesota, it is available for sale at Out Back Nursery in Hastings.