Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained loams in full sun to part shade. Plants generally grow denser in full sun, but in the St. Louis area may do best with some light afternoon shade. Species plants are self-incompatible, meaning that another cultivar or seed-grown species plant should be planted nearby for pollination and subsequent fruit production to occur. Promptly remove root suckers to prevent colonial spread unless naturalization is desired.
Southern black haw (also sometimes called rusty black haw or rusty nannyberry) is a deciduous, suckering shrub or small tree that typically grows 10-20’ tall. It is native to Missouri where it typically occurs in rocky or dry woods, valleys, rocky glades, thickets and along streams mostly in areas south of the Missouri River (Steyermark). ‘Royal Guard’ is a slightly more compact form of the species that is primarily noted for its narrow upright habit and glossy leaves that turn burgundy in fall. It features dark green elliptic to oval leathery leaves (to 4” long) that are lustrous above and attractive throughout the growing season. Leaf undersides, buds and young stems are covered with rusty brown hairs. One of the easiest ways to distinguish this plant from the similar black haw (V. prunifolium) is the presence of rusty brown hairs. Tiny flowers in showy rounded cymes (to 5” across) bloom in spring. Flowers are followed by clusters of edible blue berries (to 3/8” long) that ripen in September to October. Birds are attracted to the fruit. Foliage turns an attractive burgundy in fall.
No serious insect or disease problems.
Screens, borders or native plant areas. Spring flowers, attractive summer foliage, fall fruit and burgundy fall color make this an interesting ornamental landscape plant. May be grown as a specimen as long as the fruit is not desired.