Viburnum opulus L. - Snowball tree, European cranberrybush, Guelder rose, Squawbush


Family Viburnaceae Rafin., poд Viburnum L.

Morphology and biology.

Small spreading tree or large shrub to 3-4 m height (to 6-7 m in the most favourable conditions). Fast-growing plant. Annual growth even at lateral shoots reaches 30-40 cm. Longevity of stems 9-25 (up to 50) years. Root system consists from long taproot and numerous lateral roots. Bark grey-brownish with rimes; young shoots with greyish-green bark. Buds ovoid sometimes with pointed top, redish-green, with 2 scales. Opposite leafs wide-ovoid or round, 3-5-lobate, large (7-10 cm length, to 8 cm width, and sometimes bigger on the sprouting shoots). Upper leaf surface is naked, dark-green, lower leaf surface is more light because of grey densely and soft velvet pubescent. Leafstalk is short (up to 2 cm)? with glandular tubercles in upper end. Flowers collected in inflorescence - corymbs up to 8-10 cm diameter. Fertile, bell-shaped, yellowish inner flowers (small about 5 mm) are surrounded by a ring of showier, actinomorphic, white, sterile flowers (large 1-2.5 cm). Cross-pollinated. Fruit is one-seed drupe, spherical, wide-ellipsoid, ovoid or oval form up to 10-12 mm across, red or bright-red colour. Flesh yellowish, juicy, sweet-sour-bitter. After slight frosts the bitter taste considerable lowering and the fruits become esculent. Seed rotundo-flat, yellowishб 6-8 mm diameter, weight 10-12 g. Fruit-bearing annual. Flowering in IV-V, fruit-bearing in VIII-IX. Species has high variety of forms. The most well-known dwarf form V. opulus .Nanum. with spherical dense crown, and very ornamental sterile form V. opulus .Roseum., which often named .snow ball. and has dazzling white fruitless flowers. Sorts: Zholobovskaja, Zakat, Krasnaja Grozd., Maria, Riabinushka, Eleksir.

Distribution and origin.

Natural area covers territory of Europe, Caucasus, Minor and Middle Asia, Siberia, Northern Africa. Introduction in culture started in 1974 in Scientific-Research Institute of Gardening of Siberia named by M.A. Lisavenko. Cultivated in forest and steppe-forest zones of Europe part of the former USSR, on the Ural, in Siberia, Far East, on the Caucasus, in Kazahstan and countries of Central Asia. It can be found in green plantations on Solovetskije islands, in Archangelsk, Kotlas, Solikamsk, Ussuriisk.


Frostproof (not suffer from short slight frosts and strong frosts). Hygrophilous. Enough demanded to soil fertility and especially humidification. Prefer middle and hard loamy soils with pH 5.5-7 or lime soils. Satisfactorily bear the salinization of soil. Shade-tolerant, but fruit-bearing is better on open places. Resistant to the dust and gas air pollution.

Economic value.

The plant has high food and medicine properties. Fruits contain 8-10% sugars, 1.5-2.5% organic acids, 0.5-1% pectin, mineral substances - Na, K, Ca, Mg, P, Fe (to 5 mg/100 g), carotin, vitamins C (17.4-81.5 and more than 100 mg/100 g), E, B9, P. Seeds contain up to 21% oil. Fruits used for cooking: jam, thin jelly, jelly, sweetmeat, marmalade, juice, filling for pies. Flowers, fruits and bark used in medicine. Wood used for turner works. Plants used in field- and soil- protected belts. Valuable honey plant. Sweet-fruit forms were selected in Research Institute of Gardening in Siberia (sorts Ul.chen, Souzga, Zarniza, Tajezhnije Rubini, Vigorovskaja, Shukshinskaja and other). Productivity of berries 3.95-8.23 (up to 16) ton per hectare, 4-10 (up to 18) kg per bush, productivity of bark 250-600 g per square meter. Grow in gardens and parks as ornamental plant. Shade-tolerant and gas-resistant plant, that allows to use it in city green plantations. It is necessary search the valuable forms in different zones of it.s area.

Reference citations:

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