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Viburnum prunifolium – Blackhaw Viburnum

Native to wide parts of the eastern and midwestern United States & found in moist environments, blackhaw viburnum (Viburnum prunifolium) is drought tolerant.

Blackhaw viburnum is an excellent choice as a specimen tree but is mostly used as a hedge, screen or large shrub in the background of the garden. Blackhaw viburnum, also known as sweet haw, stag bush, or simply blackhaw, deserves strong consideration for the native garden.

blackhaw viburnum
Blackhaw viburnum is often grown as a shrub or small tree.

A deciduous shrub that rather slowly matures to around 10′-12′ tall/wide, blackhaw viburnum may also be trained as a small tree.

Guides suggest that blackhaw viburnum blooms May-June, but in Georgia, April blooming in the garden is more typical. Hardy in USDA zones 3-9, blackhaw viburnum is a tough customer and has no problems with disease or insects to speak of.  Viburnum prunifolium is adaptable to full sun and part shade. In hot climates, the partial shade can be as little as a couple of hours of sun during the day, as well as dappled sunlight for a longer period.

Flowers are small, white, and non-fragrant. Fall color is a respectable purple hue, and the blackish-blue fruit is edible for birds and wildlife. Indeed, the fruit is edible by humans and can reportedly be used to make jams, preserves, and pies.

While it has been noted that blackhaw viburnum will tolerate partial shade, be aware that flower and fruit production will diminish in the heavier shade in the garden.

Finally, a note about pruning: Blackhaw viburnum blooms on the previous season’s wood (‘old wood’), so prune immediately after flowering in order to preserve the next season’s flowers. It is also wise to limit pruning to the removal of dead, diseased, or crossing branches, as pruning many deciduous native plants harshly ruins the shape and form of the plant.

blackhaw viburnum
Early stages of bloom in blackhaw virbunum have not yet matured to creamy white.

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