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Extension > Garden > Yard and Garden > Trees and Shrubs > Nannyberry (Viburnum lentago)

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Nannyberry (Viburnum lentago)

Karyn Vidmar and Kathy Zuzek

Plant description

Mature height: 15 to 25'
Mature width: 10 to 20'
Growth rate: Medium
Plant form: Upright
Deciduous or evergreen: Deciduous
Native range: New Brunswick south to Georgia and west to Manitoba and Colorado
Native to Minnesota: Yes
Invasive in Minnesota: No


Light: Sun to shade
Soil texture: Sand, loam, clay
Soil pH: Prefers 6-7.5; tolerates higher
Soil moisture: Well-drained to poorly-drained and dry to moist soils
Hardiness zone: 3 to 7
Pests and stresses: Often covered with mildew when grown in shaded locations, otherwise none serious. Visit What's wrong with my plant? – Viburnum for a list of the most common viburnum pests in Minnesota.
Other: Suckers readily

Nannyberry in the landscape

Nannyberry is Minnesota's largest native viburnum. In prairie habitats, it forms large thickets. As an understory plant in forested areas, nannyberry rarely forms thickets and is a smaller shrub with only a few stems. In the landscape, nannyberry is grown as a large, suckering shrub or a single- or multi-stemmed small tree. It is a durable and easy-to-grow plant throughout Minnesota because of its hardiness, its ability to grow in light or shade, and its adaptability across a wide range of soil textures, moisture levels, and soil pH. Its dense plant form makes this species well-suited for use in barriers, borders, hedges, or for screening or difficult sites. Other uses in the landscape include massing and naturalizing, to which it is ideally suited. The fruit is edible and can be used to make jams and jellies. The fruit is also attractive to birds and other wildlife. The flowers, bruised twigs, and over-ripe fruit are said to smell like wet sheep wool; keep this in mind as you site this plant in the landscape.

Nannyberry viburnum provides two seasons of interest: spring and fall. 2-4", dark green, glossy, and wavy foliage develops in spring from 1"-long, narrow, pointed buds. 3-4", round-topped clusters of small 5-petaled flowers emerge from large vase-shaped buds in May and June. In fall pendulous clusters of bluish black berries with bright red stalks create a colorful combination with fall foliage in tones of yellow, red, and purple.

Native range of Arrowwood viburunm

Native range in Minnesota, Minnesota DNR

Native range of viburnum

Native range in North America, USDA, NRCS Plants Database

Upright plant form

Kathy Zuzek, UMN Extension

Upright plant form

Northern Burgundy arrowwood

Kathy Zuzek, UMN Extension

Green summer foliage

Perle Bleu arrowwood

Kathy Zuzek, UMN Extension

Vase-shaped flower buds

Rounded dense mature Perle Bleu arrowwood

Kathy Zuzek, UMN Extension

Spring flowers

Rounded dense mature Perle Bleu arrowwood

Julie Weisenhorn, UMN Extension

Colorful fruit, fruit stalks, and foliage in fall

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