Trilobum and other species are good for landscaping and also edible | Community
The viburnums are common in landscapes and are sold in some form by most full service garden centers.
There are between 150 and 250 species of this plant depending on the reference you consult. Let’s look at the American cranberry bush viburnum (v. Trilobum) and other useful landscape viburnums that contain berries that you can eat.
Viburnum plantings are usually done because people love the flowers and the reasonable care it takes to keep them looking their best. The snowball bush viburnum (v. Opulus) and its relationship with the high bush cranberry (v. Trilobum) are two that have beautiful white flower heads and red fruits in late autumn. The American one has tastier fruits, the European one has nicer flower heads. A selection of both have excellent fall color in the landscape.
The fruits of the highbush cranberry are quite sour, and as with all viburnums, the pulp and juice to seeds ratio is not the best. Too shabby to eat fresh and eat the seeds with their flesh and skin.
However, they make a great jelly. And when dried they can make a delicious winter snack. Juice or even wine are possible, though you will need a fairly large amount of the small berries to carry out large projects like canning juice or winemaking.
Indians didn’t have apples, pears, peaches, oranges, pineapples and so many fruits that we took for granted in the supermarket. Angonquin, Cherokee, Cree, Iriquois, and Ojibwa tribes have found ways to use these fruits – from dried raisins to pemmican (i.e., tallow and fruit mixed and stored for later use). While many are acidic and high in seeds on meat, they can come in handy for a quick snack if you’re going on a hike or something.
Edible types of viburnum include viburnum alnifolia, cassinoids, dilatatum (linden), edulus, farreri (root of the passage), prunifolium (black haws), lantana, lentago (nannyberry or sweet viburnum), nudum, opulus, rufidulum, stegirum, and trilobum. And a few others I’m sure of.
But when in doubt, get ID and do the research, or you could make yourself sick if you eat the wrong ones. None of which I know of is harmful except maybe to make you sick by overeating, especially immature. But the ones listed here are among the better ones for consumption.
Viburnum lentago or nannyberry is perhaps the largest and tastiest of the group. But the shrub grows to 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide and more. Creamy flowers in May or June and dark green foliage in summer and colorful leaves in autumn and blue berries that hang into winter if no one picks them.
Wayfaring Tree (v. Lantana), Appalachian Tea (v. Cassinoides), Black Haw (v. Prunifolium), Rusty Haw (v. Rufidulum), Mooseberry (v. Edule), etc. are useful native plants and also have edible berries.
The Arrowood Viburnum can be eaten, but there isn’t much to eat other than skin and seeds. It’s a great substitute for the invasive burning bush that also plays a role in landscaping.
Arrowood and linden viburnum were used for the arrows of warrior arrows, as has been documented, found on ancient, partially preserved human bodies. But much younger, even in Daniel Boone’s time, Arrowood came from the native shrubs.
With Viburnum, we get a nice looking landscape shrub that bears fruit edible by both humans and wildlife by planting lots of the Viburnum. I particularly recommend some of the cranberry and nannyberry viburnums for large shrubs that have beneficial berries too; and for a small tree the Blackhaw Viburnum.
If we dig into 150 species of Viburnum, we can well imagine spotting a few more good species to add to our list that are both edible and useful landscaping plants. We found a wide variety of choices for our next landscaping project. With a bonus of a snack or a jelly, or feeding the wildlife through nature.
The author is a landscaper. Web: www.rockcastles.net email at [email protected]