Viburnum dentatum L. - Arrow-wood

Viburnum dentatum
Photo by Gerry Moore

Native , Common

By Steven D. Glenn

Not peer reviewed

Last Modified 01/25/2013

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Viburnum dentatum

Common Names


Field Identification

Shrub with opposite, simple, toothed leaves; with clusters of small white flowers followed by dark blue-black berries.

Medicinal uses

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for reference and historical use. We do not recommend nor do we condone the use of this species for medicinal purposes without first consulting a physician.

Moerman, 1998 Used by Native Americans for the treatment of swollen legs after birth and to prevent conception.

Other uses

Rehder, 1940 Flint, 1983 Moerman, 1998

Used as an ornamental in landscaping situations, hardy to USDA zone 2?-4.

Used by Native Americans as one of the ingredients of "kinnikinnick", a smoking mixture.


*Viburnum dentatum L., Sp. Pl. 258. 1753.
TYPE: USA, Virginia. (Lectotype: LINN 379.5), designated by Svenson, 1940

Viburnum dentatum var. lucidum Ait., Hort. Kew. 1: 372. 1789.
Viburnum dentatum var. glabellum Michx., Fl. Bor.-Am. 1: 179. 1803.
Viburnum dentatum sensu Torrey, Fl. N. Middle Sect. U.S. 319. 1824.
Viburnum recognitum Fern., Rhodora 43: 647. 1941.

Viburnum dentatum var. venosum (Britton) Gleason, Phytologia 4: 24. 1952.


HABIT Perennial, deciduous, phanerophytic, shrub, monoclinous, 1-4 m tall.

STEMS Main stems ascending or erect, round. Bark smooth, not exfoliating, gray. Branches ascending. Twigs brown or gray, not odoriferous, terete, 1.5-4 mm in diam., smooth, glabrous, eglandular, (var. dentatum has sparsely to moderately dense stellate hairs on 2nd year twigs). Pith white, round, continuous, nodal diaphram absent. Sap translucent. For a detailed discussion of stem architecture see Donoghue, 1981 For a detailed analysis of the root anatomy see Gasson, 1979

BUDS Terminal and axillary present, monomorphic, scattered along stem; terminal bud pointed; axillary buds 1 per axil, pointed. Bud scales brown or green, valvate, glabrous, eglandular, (var. dentatum has stellate hairs). Leaf scars thinly crescent-shaped. Vascular bundle scars 3.

LEAVES Opposite, simple, spiral, 2 per node, spaced somewhat evenly along stem, divergent from stem. Usually without stipules, when present: lateral, scale-like. Leaves petiolate, petiole furrowed, 0.8-3 cm long, glabrous or with long and unbranched hairs, erect or spreading, sparse, distributed throughout(var. dentatum has stellate hairs). Not glabrescent, eglandular. Leaf blades: abaxial surface light green, adaxial surface green, lanceolate or elliptic or ovate or widely ovate, bilaterally symmetric, 2-10 cm long, 1.5-7 cm wide, chartaceous, base obtuse, margin toothed, dentate, apex acute or obtuse, abaxial surface with long and unbranched hairs, erect or spreading, white, sparse, distributed along midveins or distributed marginally. Not glabrescent, eglandular. Adaxial surface with long and unbranched hairs, erect or spreading, white, sparse, distributed throughout. Not glabrescent, eglandular. Variety dentatum has moderately dense to sparse stellate hairs, especially on abaxial surface.

INFLORESCENCES Bisexual, compound, terminal umbelliform cyme. Peduncle present, 3-7 cm long; in var. lucidum glabrous or with simple hairs; in var. dentatum moderately covered with stellate hairs. Bracts sessile, linear triangular, apex acute, eglandular, caducous. Glabrous, glands present or eglandular, glands sessile, dark orange-red, var. dentatum is sparsely covered with stellate hairs. Bracteoles 0 or 1, at base of pedicel or at apex of pedicel, linear triangular, apex acute, with short and unbranched marginal hairs, eglandular, caducous.

FLOWERS Serotinous, formed on last season's growth, bisexual, with sepals and petals readily distinguishable from one another, 5-merous, fragrance absent. Calyx actinomorphic, tubular, of fused sepals, persistent, abaxial and adaxial surfaces greenish yellow, tube 2 mm long, 0.75-1 mm wide. Sepal lobes 5, triangular, margin entire or ciliate, apex acute or obtuse, eglandular or glands sessile, dark orange-red, (var. dentatum has sparse hairs). Corolla actinomorphic, of fused petals, deciduous, abaxial and adaxial surfaces white. Petal lobes 5. 2-2.5 mm long, 1.5 -2 mm wide, margin entire, apex obtuse, abaxial surface glabrous, eglandular, adaxial surface glabrous, eglandular. Gynoecium syncarpous. Carpels 1. Locules 3, 2 abortive, 1 fertile. Stigmas 1, 3-lobed on a short stylopodium at the top of the ovary. Styles 1, short, conical, glabrous. Ovary inferior, with short and unbranched hairs. Placentation axile or parietal. Androecium epipetalous, exserted, haplostemous. Stamens 5, anthers yellow, glabrous, eglandular. Filaments straight, white, glabrous, adnate to base of petals.

FRUITS Drupe, dark blue, globose-ovoid, 6-8 mm long, 5-6 mm wide, glabrous, eglandular.

SEEDS Seeds 1, yellow, globose-ovoid, 5 mm long, 4 mm wide, glabrous, eglandular, pusticulate.


Found in moist to mesic woods, thickets and roadsides.


Native to eastern North America.

United States -- AL, AR, CT, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MO, MS, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA, VT, WV

Canada -- NB, ON, QC

New York Metropolitan Region -- Native throughout the metropolitan area.

Rarity Status

Heritage Global Rank -- G5

Connecticut -- Not listed

New Jersey -- Not listed

New York -- Not listed

Species Biology

Flowering May [week 4] - July [week 1]

Pollination Waldbauer, 1984 Mycophily -- Temnostoma spp.

Fruiting July [week 1] - October [week 3]


(Ingold, 1983) (Stoll, 1980) Ridley, 1930 Martin, 1951 Meyer, 1998 Sherburne, 1972 Sargent, 1990

Endozoochory -- Avian frugivores: Corvus vulgaris (Crow), Pinicola enucleator (Pine Grosbeak), Turdus migratorius (Robin), Acanthis flammea (Redpoll), Cardinalis cardinalis (Cardinal), Vireo olivaceus (Red-eyed Vireo), Bonasa umbellus (Ruffed Grouse), Phasianus colchicus (Ring-necked Pheasant), Meleagris gallopava (Turkey), Sturnus vulgaris (Starling), Catharus minimus (Gray- cheeked Thrush), Catharus guttata (Hermit Thrush), Catharus ustulata (Olive-backed Thrush), Myiarchus crinitus (Great Crested Flycatcher), Bombycilla cedrorum (Cedar waxwing), Dryocopus pileatus (Pileated Woodpecker), Catharus mustelinus (Wood Thrush), Sylvia spp. (Whitethroat), Dumetella carolinensis (Catbird), Catharus fuscescens (Veery Thrush), Euphagus carolinus (Rusty Blackbird), Spinus tristis (American Goldfinch), Carpodacus purpureus (Purple Finch), Tyrannus tyrannus (Eastern Kingbird), Zonotrichia albicollis (White-throated Sparrow), Parus bicolor (Tufted Titmouse), Regulus calendula (Ruby-crowned Kinglet), Passerella melodia (Song Sparrow), Passerella iliaca (Fox Sparrow), Zonotrichia leucophrys (White-crowned Sparrow), Colaptes auratus (Yellow- shafted Flicker), Euphagus carolinus (Rusty Blackbird)

Mammals: Peromyscus spp. (White-footed Mice), Tamias striatus (Chipmunk), Euarctos americanus (Black Bear), Vulpes fulva (Red Fox), Sciurus carolinensis (Eastern Gray Squirrel), Sciurus niger (Eastern Fox Squirrel), Sylvilagus floridanus (Cottontail Rabbit), Mephitis mephitis (Skunk)


Schopmeyer, 1974 Giersbach, 1937

Viburnum seed is slow to germinate and most species have embryo dormancy as well as seedling (epicotyl) dormancy and hard seed coats. Germination is epigeous. Stratification at a constant 20 degrees C or a daily alternating temperature of 20 to 30 degrees C for germination followed by a low temperature pre-treatment for seedling production generally gives the best results. Seedling dormancy might be overcome by removal of the cotyledons or by a treatment of gibberellic acid (GA3). Stratification for 12-17 months at a constant 20 degrees C or a daily alternating temperature of 20 to 30 degrees C in moist soil or peat has given good results. Stratification for 180+ days at 68[night]-86[day] degrees F followed by 15-60 days at 41[night]-50[day] degrees F in moist peat has given good results. Seed can probably be stored in a sealed container at 41 degrees F with little loss of viability after one to two years.

Dried seeds can be stored at low temperature for several years. Young, 1992