Viburnum is a genus of about 150–175 species of flowering plants in the moschatel family, Adoxaceae. Its current classification is based on molecular phylogeny.[2] It was previously included in the honeysuckle family Caprifoliaceae.[1]

The member species are evergreen or deciduous shrubs or (in a few cases) small trees native throughout the temperate Northern Hemisphere, with a few species extending into tropical montane regions in South America and southeast Asia. In Africa, the genus is confined to the Atlas Mountains.


The generic name Viburnum originated in Latin, where it referred to V. lantana.[3][4]


The leaves are opposite, simple, and entire, toothed or lobed; cool temperate species are deciduous, while most of the warm temperate species are evergreen. Some species are densely hairy on the shoots and leaves, with star-shaped hairs.

The flowers are produced in corymbs 5–15 cm across, each flower white to cream or pink, small, 3–5 mm across, with five petals, strongly fragrant in some species. The gynoecium has three connate carpels with the nectary on top of the gynoecium. Some species also have a fringe of large, showy sterile flowers around the perimeter of the corymb to act as a pollinator target.

The fruit is a spherical, oval, or somewhat flattened drupe, red to purple, blue, or black, and containing a single seed; some are edible for humans, but many others are mildly poisonous. The leaves are eaten by the larvae of many Lepidoptera species.


Around 165 species are described. A 2014 phylogenetic study[5] proposed the following phylogenetic scheme and sections:

Viburnum Phylogenetic Tree

V. clemensiae


Lentago (7 species)


Punctata (2)

Euviburnum (15)

Pseudotinus (4)


Urceolata (2)


Tinus (8)


V. acerifolium

V. kansuense

V. orientale

Succotinus (34)

Coriaceae (3)

Sambucina (10)

Opulus (5)


Mollotinus (5)


Dentata (3)

Oreinotinus (30)

Lentago – Eastern North America except for V. elatum in Mexico[6]



Pseudotinus – Asia, except V. lantanoides in Eastern North America[6]

Solenotinus – Asia, extending west to India and south to Indonesia[6]

Lutescentia (excluding Tomentosa)

Tomentosa – China, Japan[6]

Amplicrenotinus (excluding Crenotinus)


Tinus – Asia, except V. tinus in Europe[6]

Corisuccotinus (excluding Succotinus and Coriaceae)




Opulus – Circumboreal[6]


Dentata – Mexico, Caribbean, and Central and South America[6]

Oreinotinus – Mexico, Caribbean, and Central and South America[6]


Formerly placed here

Cultivation and uses

Viburnum grandiflorum
Viburnum plicatum var. plicatum

Many species of viburnum have become popular as garden or landscape plants because of their showy flowers and berries, fragrance, and good autumn colour of some forms. Some popular species, hybrids, and cultivars include:[9]

  • The hybrid Viburnum × bodnantense (V. farreri × V. grandiflorum) is particularly popular for its strongly scented pink flowers on the leafless deciduous shoots in mid- to late winter.
  • Viburnum × burkwoodii (V. carlesii × V. utile)
  • Viburnum × carlcephalum (V. carlesii × V. macrocephalum)
  • Viburnum carlesii has round white flowerheads, strong fragrance, dense structure, and reddish leaves in autumn.
  • Viburnum davidii is an evergreen species from China with blue fruit.
  • Viburnum dentatum has flat-topped flowers, bluish fruit, and reddish leaves in autumn. It is somewhat salt-tolerant. The cultivar 'Blue Muffin' is more compact than the species and has fruit that are a deeper blue than the species.
  • Viburnum dilatatum has flat-topped flowers, reddish leaves in autumn, and bright red fruit that persist into winter.
  • Viburnum × jackii – Jack's viburnum
  • Viburnum × juddii (V. bitchiuense × V. carlesii)
  • Viburnum plicatum has white flowers, textured leaves, reddish-black fruit, and can grow quite large under ideal conditions. The species can tolerate shade, but not drought.
  • Viburnum × pragense (V. rhytidophyllum × V. utile)
  • Viburnum × rhytidophylloides (V. lantana × V. rhytidophyllum)popular evergreen shrub, drought resistant. Shiny green leafs, white flowers.
  • Viburnum rhytidophyllum is a popular evergreen species, grown mainly for its foliage effect of large, dark green leathery leaves with strongly wrinkled surface. This is the parent species of two popular hybrid cultivars known as 'Alleghany' and '{ragense'. 'Alleghany' was selected from a hybrid between V. rhytidophyllum and V. lantana 'Mohican' (in 1958, at the US National Arboretum).
  • Viburnum setigerum has upright, coarse structure and orange to reddish-orange fruit.
  • Viburnum sieboldii has coarse, open structure, flat-topped flowers, reddish-black fruit, and can grow as a small tree.
  • Viburnum tinus is a widely grown garden and landscape shrub.

The cultivars 'Pragense'[10] and 'Eskimo',[11] of mixed or uncertain parentage, have won the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.

Other uses

In prehistory, the long, straight shoots of some viburnums were used for arrow-shafts, as those found with Ötzi the Iceman.

The fruit of some species (e.g. V. lentago[12]) are edible and can be eaten either raw or for making jam, while other species (e.g. V. opulus[13]) are mildly toxic and can cause vomiting if eaten in quantity.

The bark of some species is used in herbal medicine, as an antispasmodic and to treat asthma.[13]

Cultural references

In Ukraine, Viburnum opulus is an important element of their traditional folk cultures, and Viburnum opulus (kalyna) is seen as a national symbol, an emblem for both the Koliada festivities and the concept of young girl's love and tenderness. It is the key element of the Ukrainian traditional wreath. A number of folk songs are dedicated to kalyna as well as very popular song "Oi u Luzi Chervona Kalina".[citation needed]

The Lithuanian name for the genus Viburnum is "Putinas".[14] This was the pen name of Lithuanian poet and writer Vincas Mykolaitis.[15] In 2000, the Lithuanian liquor company Alita released a vodka named Putin Vodka, with a red, white, and blue label, which are the colours of the Russian flag. Sold only in Lithuania at that time, a company spokesperson said that the name had its origin in the tree "putinas", after speculation arose that it was named after Russian president Vladimir Putin.[16]


  1. ^ a b "Genus: Viburnum L." Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2006-11-03. Archived from the original on 2011-06-05. Retrieved 2010-11-04.
  2. ^ Winkworth, R. C.; Donoghue, M. J. (2005). "Viburnum phylogeny based on combined molecular data: implications for taxonomy and biogeography". American Journal of Botany. 92 (4): 653–66. doi:10.3732/ajb.92.4.653. PMID 21652443. S2CID 5985489.
  3. ^ Quattrocchi, Umberto (2000). CRC World Dictionary of Plant Names: Common Names, Scientific Names, Eponyms, Synonyms, and Etymology. Vol. IV R-Z. Taylor & Francis US. p. 2793. ISBN 978-0-8493-2678-3.
  4. ^ viburnum. Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short. A Latin Dictionary on Perseus Project.
  5. ^ Clement; Arakaki; Sweeny; Edwards; Donoghue (1 June 2014). "A chloroplast tree for Viburnum (Adoxaceae) and its implications for phylogenetic classification and character evolution". American Journal of Botany. 101 (6): 1029–1049. doi:10.3732/ajb.1400015. PMID 24928633.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Donoghue; Baldwin; Li; Winkworth (1 January 2004). "Viburnum Phylogeny Based on Chloroplast trnK Intron and Nuclear Ribosomal ITS DNA Sequences". Systematic Botany. 29 (1): 188–198. doi:10.1600/036364404772974095. S2CID 85678269.
  7. ^ Hamm, Trinity; et al. (5 March 2021), "Development and Characterization of 15 Novel Genomic SSRs for Viburnum farreri", Plants, 10 (3): 487, doi:10.3390/plants10030487, PMC 8000228, PMID 33807587
  8. ^ "GRIN Species Records of Viburnum". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2010-11-04.
  9. ^ Huxley, A., ed. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. Macmillan ISBN 0-333-47494-5.
  10. ^ "Viburnum 'Pragense'". RHS. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  11. ^ "Viburnum 'Eskimo'". RHS. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  12. ^ Plants for a future: Viburnum lentago
  13. ^ a b Plants for a future: Viburnum opulus
  14. ^ "Putinas (lot. Viburnum) - visagalis sveikatinantis augalasžiūrėkite video". (in Lithuanian). 17 May 2022. Retrieved 25 July 2023.
  15. ^ "Vincas Mykolaitis - Putinas". (in Lithuanian). Retrieved 25 July 2023.
  16. ^ Dapkus, Liudas (15 September 2000). "Distillery launches Putin-brand vodka". ABC News. Retrieved 25 July 2023.