Viburnum opulus 'Compactum'
Common Name: European cranberrybush
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Adoxaceae
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 4.00 to 6.00 feet
Spread: 4.00 to 6.00 feet
Bloom Time: May
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Hedge
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Good Fall
Attracts: Birds, Butterflies
Fruit: Showy
Tolerate: Erosion

Culture

Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Prefers loams with consistent moisture, but tolerates a wide range of soils. Species plants sometimes grow in wet or boggy soils in its native habitat. Prune as needed immediately after flowering.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Viburnum opulus, commonly called European cranberry bush, is a highbush cranberry that is native to Europe, Asia and N. Africa. It is a deciduous shrub with a rounded spreading habit that typically grows to 10-15’ tall. It features lacecap-type white flowers in spring in flat-topped 3” wide cymes of tiny fertile florets surrounded by larger sterile florets, drooping clusters of cranberry-like red berries (drupes) in fall and three lobed, maple-like, dark green leaves. The berries (drupes) are technically edible, but are very bitter in taste and are not recommended for eating fresh off the shrub. Fruits tend to shrivel after frost. Foliage turns a sometimes attractive purplish red in fall. This plant has escaped gardens and naturalized in parts of the northeastern and Midwestern U.S. north into Canada.

Genus name comes from the Latin name of a species plant.

It should be noted that highbush cranberry is a common name often used to describe three different viburnums (elderberry family) that produce cranberry-like fruit: (1) V. opulus described here, (2) V. opulus var. americanum and (3) V. edule. The true cranberry that is grown commercially for food (Vaccinium macrocarpon) is an unrelated member of the heath family.

‘Compactum’ is a dense compact form that grows much shorter (to about 4-6' tall). Lacecap-type white flowers in spring (May) are followed by showy scarlet-red fruits that mature in early fall.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for aphids. Viburnum crown borer can cause stem dieback. Some susceptibility to bacterial leaf spot, stem blight and powdery mildew.

Garden Uses

Shrub borders or foundations. Woodland margins. Hedge or screen.

Excellent compact shrub for smaller landscapes.