European Cranberrybush (Viburnum Opulus)

Plant: Table of Contents

European Cranberrybush (Viburnum opulus): A Complete Guide

Plants are a fascinating and integral part of our environment, contributing to the beauty and biodiversity of the world. One such captivating plant is the European cranberrybush, scientifically known as Viburnum opulus. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the characteristics, cultivation, uses, and maintenance of this remarkable plant.

What is Plant: European Cranberrybush (Viburnum opulus)

Viburnum opulus Characteristics

European cranberrybush, or Viburnum opulus, is a deciduous shrub that belongs to the honeysuckle family, Caprifoliaceae. It is native to Europe, Northern Africa, and Northern Asia. This plant is known for its attractive foliage, clusters of white flowers, and vibrant red berries, making it a valuable addition to gardens and landscapes.

European Cranberrybush Plant

Viburnum opulus, also referred to as European cranberrybush, is a hardy shrub that can reach a height and spread of 8-12 feet. It features attractive three-lobed, maple-like leaves that turn vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow in the fall. The plant produces showy, flat-topped clusters of white flowers in late spring, followed by translucent, bright red berries in the fall, adding ornamental value to the landscape.

Viburnum Opulus Description

The Viburnum opulus shrub is characterized by its multi-stemmed and upright growth habit. It is well-suited for use in borders, hedges, and woodland gardens due to its prolific flowering and berry production. With its lush foliage, striking blooms, and colorful berries, the European cranberrybush is a favorite among gardeners and landscape enthusiasts.

European Cranberrybush Facts

  • Scientific Name: Viburnum opulus
  • Family: Caprifoliaceae
  • Common Names: European cranberrybush, guelder rose, highbush cranberry
  • Native Habitat: Europe, Northern Africa, Northern Asia
  • Foliage: Deciduous, three-lobed leaves with vibrant autumn coloration
  • Flowers: Clusters of white flowers in late spring
  • Fruits: Translucent red berries in the fall
  • Uses: Ornamental shrub, wildlife attraction, medicinal properties

Viburnum Opulus Varieties

Several cultivars of Viburnum opulus are available, each with unique features such as variegated foliage, compact growth habit, or extended flowering period. Some popular varieties include ‘Roseum’ (Snowball Viburnum) with round flower clusters, ‘Compactum’ with a more compact growth habit, and ‘Notcutt’s Variety’ with variegated leaves.

Key Takeaways – European Cranberrybush (Viburnum opulus)

Before delving into the specifics of the European cranberrybush cultivation and maintenance, here are some key takeaways about this captivating plant:

  • Name: European Cranberrybush (Viburnum opulus)
  • Family: Caprifoliaceae
  • Native Habitat: Europe, Northern Africa, Northern Asia
  • Features: Deciduous foliage, white flower clusters, red berries
  • Uses: Ornamental shrub, wildlife attraction, medicinal properties


Cultivating European cranberrybush requires an understanding of its cultural preferences, including its water, sunlight, soil, and fertilizer requirements. Let’s delve into each of these aspects in detail.


European cranberrybush prefers consistently moist soil, especially during the growing season. While it can tolerate short periods of drought once established, regular watering is essential for optimal growth and berry production. Adequate moisture is particularly important during the flowering and fruit development stages to ensure healthy and abundant berry formation.


When it comes to sunlight, Viburnum opulus thrives in full sun to partial shade. It is adaptable to a range of light conditions, making it suitable for various garden settings. However, for the best flowering and fruiting performance, providing ample sunlight is recommended.


Applying a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in spring can promote healthy growth and abundant flowering in European cranberrybush. Opt for a fertilizer specifically formulated for shrubs and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for application rates. Avoid excessive fertilization, as it can lead to lush foliage but reduced flowering.


European cranberrybush grows well in moderately fertile, well-draining soil. It adapts to a variety of soil types, including loamy, sandy, or clay soils, as long as they are well-draining. Prior to planting, amending the soil with organic matter can improve its texture and fertility, creating an optimal growing environment for the shrub.


European Cranberrybush Uses

The European cranberrybush offers a range of practical and aesthetic uses in landscaping and horticulture. Some of its key uses include:
Ornamental Plant: Viburnum opulus is widely valued for its ornamental appeal, featuring lush foliage, attractive flowers, and colorful berries that add visual interest to gardens and landscapes.
Wildlife Attraction: The shrub’s berries are a valuable food source for various wildlife species, including birds and small mammals, making it a wildlife-friendly addition to naturalistic gardens and woodland areas.
Medicinal Properties: In traditional herbal medicine, certain parts of the European cranberrybush, such as the berries and bark, are believed to possess medicinal properties and have been used for various therapeutic purposes.


Viburnum Opulus Pruning Techniques

Proper pruning is essential for maintaining the health, shape, and flowering performance of European cranberrybush. Here are some pruning techniques to consider:
Timing: Prune Viburnum opulus in late winter to early spring before the onset of new growth.
Dead Wood Removal: Remove any dead, damaged, or diseased wood to maintain plant health and vigor.
Thinning: Thin out old or crowded stems to improve air circulation and promote new growth.
Shape Control: Trim the shrub to achieve the desired shape, whether it’s a naturalistic form or a more formal appearance.


Viburnum Opulus Propagation Methods

Propagating European cranberrybush can be done through several methods, including:
Softwood Cuttings: Take softwood cuttings in early summer and root them in a well-draining propagation medium under controlled conditions.
Hardwood Cuttings: Harvest hardwood cuttings in late winter and propagate them in a suitable rooting medium to establish new plants.
Division: Divide mature plants during the dormant season, ensuring that each division has an adequate root system for successful establishment.


Viburnum Opulus Container Gardening

While European cranberrybush is typically planted in the ground, it can also thrive in containers with proper care and maintenance. Here are some considerations for growing Viburnum opulus in containers:
Container Size: Use a spacious container that allows for sufficient root development and growth.
Soil: Choose a well-draining potting mix specifically formulated for shrubs or ornamental plants.
Watering: Monitor the moisture levels closely and water the plant whenever the top inch of the soil feels dry.
Sunlight: Position the container in a location that receives adequate sunlight for healthy growth and flowering.


The European cranberrybush, Viburnum opulus, has gained popularity among gardeners, landscapers, and plant enthusiasts due to its numerous attractive features and versatile uses. Its popularity is further augmented by its adaptability to a range of growing conditions and its low-maintenance nature.

Common Diseases

The health of European cranberrybush can be impacted by certain diseases, which can affect its growth and overall vitality. Being aware of common diseases and their management is crucial for maintaining the plant’s vigor.

Disease Diagnosis

Some common diseases that can affect Viburnum opulus include:
Powdery Mildew: Characterized by the presence of white, powdery fungal growth on the leaves, powdery mildew can weaken the plant and hinder its overall performance.
Leaf Spot: Leaf spot diseases manifest as dark or discolored spots on the leaves, impacting their appearance and potentially reducing photosynthetic efficiency.
Anthracnose: Anthracnose can cause wilting, browning, and defoliation of the foliage, particularly during periods of high humidity and moisture.

Common Pests

In addition to diseases, European cranberrybush may also be susceptible to certain pests that can compromise its health and aesthetic appeal. Understanding common pests and their management can help in preserving the plant’s vitality.

Viburnum Opulus Pests Management

Some typical pests that may affect Viburnum opulus include:
Aphids: These small, sap-sucking insects can cluster on the undersides of leaves, causing leaf curling, yellowing, and reduced vigor.
Scale Insects: Scale insects can attach themselves to the stems and leaves, feeding on plant sap and potentially causing weakening and deformation of the foliage.
Spider Mites: Infestations of spider mites can lead to stippled, discolored foliage and webbing on the plant, impacting its overall health.

Botanist’s Tips

As a plant scientist with a passion for studying and cultivating diverse plant species, I offer the following tips for effectively growing and caring for European cranberrybush:
– Choose a suitable planting location that provides adequate sunlight and well-draining soil to promote healthy growth and flowering.
– Regularly monitor the plant for signs of pests and diseases, addressing any issues promptly to prevent them from spreading and causing significant damage.
– Incorporate organic matter into the soil during planting to enhance its fertility and texture, creating an optimal growing environment for Viburnum opulus.

Fun Facts

To further appreciate the charm and allure of European cranberrybush, here are some fun facts about this captivating shrub:
– The berries of Viburnum opulus are a favorite food source for various bird species, making it a valuable addition to bird-friendly landscapes.
– Certain traditional herbal remedies utilize components of the European cranberrybush for their purported medicinal properties, reflecting its historical significance in folk medicine.
– The vibrant autumn foliage of the European cranberrybush adds a spectacular display of color to gardens and landscapes, making it a standout feature in fall scenery.

Links to External Resources

For additional information on European cranberrybush (Viburnum opulus), refer to the following external resources:
The Royal Horticultural Society – Viburnum opulus
Missouri Botanical Garden – Viburnum opulus
University of Florida IFAS Extension – Viburnum opulus Fact Sheet

As an intriguing and visually appealing shrub with diverse uses and ecological contributions, European cranberrybush (Viburnum opulus) holds a special place in the realm of ornamental plants. Whether it’s the striking white flower clusters, vibrant red berries, or the alluring autumn foliage, this plant never fails to captivate the senses and enrich the natural landscape.

Incorporating Viburnum opulus in garden designs, wildlife habitats, and horticultural settings not only enhances the visual appeal but also contributes to the overall biodiversity and ecological balance. By understanding its cultural requirements, uses, and maintenance practices, we can fully appreciate and harness the potential of this remarkable plant.

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Peter Taylors

Expert botanist who loves plants. His expertise spans taxonomy, plant ecology, and ethnobotany. An advocate for plant conservation, he mentors and educates future botanists, leaving a lasting impact on the field.