Friday, February 6, 2015

Flower Friday: Spring comes early with Walter's viburnum

Photo by Alan Cressler, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Walter's viburnum (Viburnum obovatum)

Walter's viburnum is an evergreen* woody shrub to small tree that produces profuse clusters of dainty white flowers. Its leaves are small (about 1" in length), spatulate in shape, and oppositely arranged. They are dark green and leathery and may have either entire or slightly toothed margins.

Walter's viburnum typically flowers in spring. It occurs naturally in hydric hammocks, riverine forests, floodplain swamps and bottomland forests. Pollinators are attracted to its showy flower clusters, while birds and other wildlife feast on its abundant summer and fall fruit production and use its dense foliage for nesting and cover. 

Walter's viburnum leaves. Photo by Stacey Matrazzo
This species was previously placed in the Caprifoliaceae (honeysuckle) family.

Family: Adoxaceae (Moschatel family)
Native range: Panhandle, North and South-central peninsula
Hardiness: Zones 7-10a
Soil: Moist to wet, fertile soils
Exposure: Full sun to full shade
Growth habit: varies, up to 12+ feet tall
Garden tips: Walter's viburnum makes a great hedgerow, or border/screening plant and can be pruned to a preferred shape and height. It is fast-growing, extremely adaptable to a broad range of conditions, and hurricane wind resistant. It is best propagated by cuttings; seeds require scarification before planting and may not germinate for several years, although specimens are known to self-seed. It is also known to spread by suckering.

*Walter's viburnum may experience a brief deciduous period in North Florida and/or in colder winter temperatures.

Walter's viburnum is often available at nurseries that specialize in native plants.Visit PlantRealFlorida.org to find a native nursery on your area.

To see where Walter's viburnum occurs naturally, visit www.florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=3202.

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