By: Liz Baessler
Guelder rose is a flowering deciduous tree that goes by many names, including highbush cranberry, rose elder, snowball tree and crampbark. The name guelder rose originates in the Gelderland province of the Netherlands, where a popular cultivar was supposedly developed. The tree is very attractive and easy to grow. Keep reading to learn more guelder rose information, like tips on guelder rose growing and how to care for a guelder rose viburnum.
Guelder Rose Viburnums
What is a guelder rose? Guelder rose viburnums (Viburnum opulus) are deciduous shrubs or trees that grow to between 13 and 25 feet in height and 8 to 12 feet in spread, making them well suited for smaller areas of the landscape.
In late spring to early summer, they produce branching clusters of flowers that are usually white but sometimes shades of pink. The flowers give way in autumn to round berries that are red, blue or black. These berries are mildly toxic and can cause nausea of they are eaten. The leaves are frequently mistaken for maple leaves. They are bright green in the summer and turn to orange and red in the fall.
How to Care For Guelder Rose Plants
Guelder rose growing is very easy and forgiving. The shrubs will grow in most varieties of soil, including chalk, clay, sand and loam. That said, they prefer well drained but moist soil. In the wild, the plants tend to grow in damp areas. They will also tolerate both acidic and alkaline soils.
These viburnum shrubs will grow in anything from shade to full sun.
Although the berries are mildly toxic raw, they can be cooked into an edible and tasty jam. When eaten, the bark of guelder rose viburnums is thought to have positive medicinal effects as an antispasmodic, earning the plant one of its common names – crampbark.
This article was last updated on
© Copyright: Images: Jouko Lehmuskallio.
All rights reserved.
- Name also: Guelder Rose, Rose Elder, Water Elder, Cramp Bark, High Bush Cranberry, High Cranberry, May Rose, King’s Crown, Silver Bells, Snowball Tree, European Cranberrybush, European Highbush (Canada)
- Family: Muskroot Family – Adoxaceae
(formerly Honeysuckle Family – Caprifoliaceae)
- Growing form and height: Shrub. 1–3 m (3–10 ft.).
- Flower: Inflorescence a flat-topped corymb, approx. 10 cm (4 in.) wide, consisting of two kinds of flower. Sterile outer flowers large, white, with 5 rounded perianth-segments. Inner flowers bisexual, white, bell-shaped. Stamens 5. Pistil formed from 3, fused carpels. Stigmas 3, styles absent.
- Leaves: Opposite. Exstipulate, stalked. Blade greyish and fine-hairy beneath, ca. 6 cm (2.4 in.) long, three-lobed, lobes taper-pointed, large-toothed.
- Buds: Egg-shaped, non-symmetrical, brownish green, glabrous, shiny. Buds opposite.
- Fruit: Red, single-seeded drupe.
- Habitat: Broadleaf woods, rich mixed swamps, streamsides. Also an ornamental.
- Flowering time: June–July.
The genus Viburnum comprises close to 150 species. Most of the species are native to the temperate regions of the Northern hemisphere. There are only three European species. Many ornamentals grown in Europe are originally North American. So is the case also with many species of Viburnum.
Guelder-rose is a shrub with angled stems and showy flowers, thriving best on damp, rich soils. The large, white outer flowers in the inflorescences have no stamens nor carpels, they only function as attractions for insects. The fertile central flowers are pollinated e.g. by bees and some beetles. Also self pollination takes place. The bark and wood of poisonous guelder-rose are fetid. The bark has been and still is used as a pain-alleviating medicine, That’s why the name ‘cramp bark’.
Wayfarer (Wayfaring tree)
NOT TRANSLATED YET . Niinkuin nimestä voi päätellä, villaheisi on villakarvainen, etenkin lehtien alapinnoilta (tähtikarvaisia) ja oksiltaan (huopakarvaisia). Meillä villaheisiä ei tavata aidosti luonnonvaraisena, mutta puutarhojen lähistöilla sitä voi tavata karkulaisena. Villaheiden lehdet ovt soikeita, sahalaitaisia. Kukiltaan villaheisi on, ainakin tarkkahajuisten mielestä pahanhajuinen. Neuvottomat laitakukat puuttuvat. Marjat ovat ensin punaisia ja myöhemmin mustia. Lehdet saavat syksyllä kauniin ruskan värin.
→ Distribution map (Kasviatlas, University of Helsinki)
Viburnum tinus Description
Viburnum tinus is an evergreen shrub that usually ranges in height from 72 to 144 inches (1.8–3.7 m), but can reach heights of 275 inches (7 m). Its spread is usually around 80 inches (2 m) but can reach 120 inches (3 m).
Shiny dark green leaves are evergreen and similar in shape to those of bay laurel (ovate–elliptic 1.5 to 4 inches long (4–10cm) × by 2/3 to 1 1/2 inches (2–4cm) wide. They appear as opposite pairs, and typically last for two to three years.
Viburnum typically blooms with fragrant flowers from mid-winter to early spring (some cultivars can flower from late autumn to the start of summer).
Depending on the cultivar, flowers can be white, pink, or pinkish-white. Bud heads are about two to four inches (5–10 cm) in length, and the small flowers are flattened. Dark blue-black fruits then follow. These are small (
Viburnum Species, Guelder Rose, European Cranberry, Snowball Viburnum, Highbush Cranberry
Average Water Needs Water regularly do not overwater
USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 °C (-30 °F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 °C (-25 °F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 °C (-20 °F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 °C (-15 °F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 °C (-10 °F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 °C (-5 °F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 °C (0 °F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 °C (5 °F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)
Where to Grow:
Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
Soil pH requirements:
From semi-hardwood cuttings
From seed direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse
From seed stratify if sowing indoors
Allow unblemished fruit to ripen clean and dry seeds
This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:
On Mar 12, 2017, Timanfaya from Madrid,
Somebody knows if there is another difference, apart from size, between Viburnum opulus and Viburnum opulus compactum?. Which one produces more fruits and is hardier. Thanks
On May 27, 2013, plant_it from Valparaiso, IN wrote:
Gorgeous plant, beneficial to wildlife. However, if you are in the U.S. and are looking to plant one, plant the native species instead which is Viburnum trilobum, American Cranberrybush Viburnum (and a/k/a Viburnum opulus var. americanum).
The best way to separate Viburnum opulus from Viburnum trilobum is by examination and comparison of the glands on the leaf petioles. The European species has flattened squat concave glands, and the North American species has thinner small stalked columnar (matchstick-like) glands.
On Jun 10, 2008, Zaylon from Yukon, OK wrote:
I purchased this plant from a local garden center last year. It was tagged as the snowball shaped version ( which was what I was wanting at the time) and I bought it when it was not in bloom. When it bloomed this spring, SURPRISE, it was the lacecap version. At first I was bummed out, but then I decided I love it. I even think the flowers have a slight fragrance.
Now it is summertime, and it has berries on it, which I think adds even more intrest. It also has a lovely, bushy shape.
On Feb 10, 2007, claypa from West Pottsgrove, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:
Cosidered an invasive plant in Southeastern Pennsylvania by the Pa. Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources because it's replacing the native Viburnum,
The European Highbush Cranberry is one of our favourite all year performers. Some years are more prone to aphis invasion. Very attractive to birds. Berries remain in our zone well into early spring from midsummer.Leaves have glowing fall colour. Branches in winter are visible as gracefully twisted forms for the most part. Does need occasional thinning. Good screening. delicate flowers in springtime.Cedar waxwings and robins feast on the berries.
An all round positive experience with this bush, now reaching 15 ft.in our garden. We have 4 "bushes".
On Jan 27, 2002, Copperbaron from Vicksburg, MS (Zone 8a) wrote:
This shrub is native to Europe, northern Africa, and northern Asia. It is a dense, compact, deciduous shrub that grows to 8'-10' tall with a 10'-15' spread and is upright then spreading, typically branched to the ground. The flowers are in flat clusters 2"-3.5" across and provide a showy display in late May or early June. Fall color can be yello-red or reddish purple, but is not consistently good. Pendulous fruit clusters are effective from late summer through mid-autumn.
European cranberry can be grown in full sun to partial shade and grow best in fertile, moist soils, but is adaptable to other soils and pH. A very tough and easy to grow shrub suitable for the shrub border, as a screen, mass plantings, flowering and fruiting, and difficult growing sites. Aphids can be. read more a problem and needs occasional rejuvenation pruning.
Viburnum opulus Hedge Plants Description
Also known as the Snowball Tree, due to its frothy white flowers, Guelder Rose makes a beautiful ornamental hedge. Later in the year, the red berries that accompany Guelder Rose's warm autumnal colours are relished by birds, especially bullfinches and mistle thrushes.
It is a self-pollinating species, so although Guelder Rose can be a single plant in a mixed hedge, having multiple plants will provide the best fruiting. Guelder Rose can be combined with other native hedging species to prove year round interest, or other flowering species for a stunning mixed hedge.
Growing up to 5m high with an average growth between 20cm - 40cm per year, Guelder Rose hedging grows well in most soil types - except for very acidic types - but will particularly thrive in moist, fertile soil. Ideally, it should be grown in sunlight, but it is also suitable for lightly shaded areas.
Bare root Guelder Rose hedging plants are available from November to mid/late May, whilst pot-grown and cell-grown plants are available all year round.
Planting distances are very much a matter of choice - for bare roots, 3 plants per metre is adequate, 5 is good, 7 in a double staggered row will give a dense hedge quicker. Generally, smaller plants should be planted at higher density. Cell grown should be planted at 4 per metre in a single row or ideally 6 per metre in a staggered row.
For more information on planting distances please see our planting density advice section.
Viburnum opulus is one of a number of plants that produces flowers and berries on last year's stem growth. A healthy plant will produce new stem growth each year quite happily requiring little pruning and maintenance. Trimming however, is sometimes required to maintain or to improve the shape of your plant or hedge.
The ideal time to do this is after flowering in late spring. Ensure that any dead, diseased or broken branches. are removed as part of the process. In addition, to keep a good air circulation which helps to prevent disease, look for and trim out any overcrowded branches. Up to a third of the shrub can be trimmed out yearly if necessary without any negative impact.
Trimming flowering branches back at the tips will naturally impact on berry production that autumn, however the upside is that new growth will develop throughout the remainder of the year on which an abundance of flowers and berries will then be produced the following year.
For old, overgrown plants that have slowed in their flower production and have a leggy, woody appearance, regenerative pruning can be undertaken. This is where old wood is significantly cut back almost to the ground, with particular care taken to remove any weak or straggly branches. This allows the plant to re-establish itself with renewed vigor and growth in subsequent years to become a stunning specimen once again.
This type of hard pruning is best done later in the year but before winter so that some new growth can establish prior to the plant becoming dormant. This will ensure that it bounces back again the following spring.
Free delivery is available on all orders providing they meet the minimum spend criteria for the size of box or pallet. Pallet deliveries and large box deliveries for tall plants are indicated by icons on the product table listings. Delivery costs and minimum order details for each packaging type are as follows: