Viburnum lentago L. - Nannyberry

Native , Frequent

By Steven D. Glenn

Not peer reviewed

Last Modified 01/25/2013

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Viburnum lentago

Common Names


Field Identification

Shrub with opposite, finely-toothed leaves; with clusters of small white flowers, followed by dark blue-black berries. Most easily confused with V. prunifolium. -
Petioles with bumpy, wavy margins and usually green; leaf apices acuminate; leaves light green...Viburnum lentago
Petioles without bumpy, wavy margins and usually maroon-red; leaf apices acute; leaves dark green...Viburnum prunifolium

Food 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 food purposes without first consulting a physician.

Moerman, 1998 Used by Native Americans as a raw fruit, to make jam with grapes, to make small cakes, and sun/fire dried for future use.

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 measles, tuberculosis, and as a diuretic.

Other uses

Rehder, 1940 Flint, 1983

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


*Viburnum lentago L., Sp. Pl. 268. 1753.
Viburnum lentagoides Raf., Med. Repos. New York hex. 2,5: 354. 1808.
Viburnum pyrifolium sensu Bigelow, Fl. Boston. ed. 2, 116. 1824, not Poiret 1808.
?Viburnum ferrugineum Raf., Alsogr. Am. 52. 1838.
?Viburnum rotundifolium Raf., Alsogr. Am. 54. 1838.
?Viburnum longifolium Raf., Alsogr. Am. 56. 1838.
?Viburnum pyrifolium var. pennsylvanicum Sm. ex Raf., Alsogr. Am. 1838.
Viburnum acuminatum Hort. ex Schneider, Ill. Handb. Laubh. 2: 656. 1911, pro syn.
TYPE: Canada: Kalm s.n. (Lectotype: Kalm s.n., LINN 379.10), designated by Malecot, 2002


HABIT Perennial, deciduous, phanerophytic, small tree or shrub, monoclinous, 1-8 m tall.

STEMS Main stems ascending or erect, round. Bark smooth, not exfoliating, brown or light brown or light gray or gray. Branches ascending. Twigs brown or light brown or light gray or gray, not odoriferous, terete, 2-5 mm in diam., smooth or lenticellate, glabrous or scurfy with sessile reddish orange scales, eglandular. Pith white, round, continuous, nodal diaphragm 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, dimorphic, scattered along stem; terminal bud oblong, 10-20 mm long, pointed, terminal flower bud swollen at base and longer than vegetative bud; axillary buds 1 per axil, oblong, 4-10 mm long, pointed. Bud scales 2, dark brown, valvate, apparently glabrous, sometimes with minute hairs visible at 20x. Leaf scars thinly crescent-shaped. Vascular bundle scars 3.

LEAVES Opposite, simple, spiral, 2 per node, crowded toward stem apex or spaced somewhat evenly along stem, divergent from stem. Stipules absent. Leaves petiolate, petiole furrowed, 1-3 cm long, with sessile scales, sparse or moderately dense or dense. Not glabrescent, eglandular, usually with irregularly winged, bumpy margin. Leaf blades: abaxial surface light green, adaxial surface green, oblong or ovate, bilaterally symmetric, 3.5-11 cm long, 2-6 cm wide, chartaceous, base obtuse, margin toothed, serrulate, apex acuminate, abaxial surface scurfy with sessile reddish orange scales, sparse or moderately dense or dense, distributed throughout, eglandular. Adaxial surface scurfy with sessile reddish orange scales, sparse, distributed along midveins, eglandular. Often with reduced leaves.

INFLORESCENCES Bisexual, compound, terminal umbelliforn cyme, generally orange-red scurfy throughout below ovaries. Peduncle absent, inflorescence sessile. Bracts sessile, linear triangular, apex acute, caduceus, with sessile reddish orange scales, sparse or moderately dense, distributed throughout, eglandular. Bracteoles 0 or 1, at base of pedicel or at apex of pedicel, abaxial surface light yellowish green, linear triangular or narrowly triangular, 0.5 mm long, margin entire, apex acute, glabrous, eglandular, caducous.

FLOWERS Serotinous, formed on last season's growth, bisexual, with sepals and petals readily distinguishable from one another, 5-merous, fragrance absent, perianth of two whorls. Calyx actinomorphic, tubular, of fused sepals, persistent, abaxial and adaxial surfaces light yellowish green, lobes occasionally tinged rose-pink when young. Sepal lobes 5, widely ovate, 0.5-1 mm long, 0.5-1 mm wide, margin entire, apex obtuse, abaxial surface glabrous, eglandular. Corolla atinomorphic, acetabuliform, of fused petals, deciduous, abaxial and adaxial surfaces white, 5-7 mm wide. Petal lobes 5, ovate, 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, glabrous, eglandular. Placentation axile or parietal. Androecium epipetalous, exserted, haplostemous. Stamens 5. Anthers yellow, glabrous. Filaments straight, white, glabrous, adnate to base of petals.

FRUITS Drupe, red and green when immature, turning violet-blue or black, often glaucous, ellipsoid, 9-15 mm long, 7-10 mm wide, glabrous, eglandular; often glaucous at maturity. The f. sphaerocarpum with the fruits spherical, 7-9 mm in diameter from New England westward has been described by Fernald, 1908.

SEEDS Seeds 1, light yellow, lenticular, 8-10 mm long, 7-9 mm wide, glabrous, eglandular, pusticulate.


Usually found in mesic to moist woods, thickets, and roadsides.


Native to northern North America [disjuncts in Georgia? and Mississippi?].

United States -- CO, CT, DE, GA?, IA, IL, IN, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO?, MS?, MT, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, SD, VA, VT, WI, WV, WY

Canada -- MB, NB?, NS?, ON, QK, SK

New York Metropolitan Region -- Native, throughout the metropolitan region, especially northward and inland.

Rarity Status

Heritage Global Rank -- G5

Connecticut -- Not listed

New Jersey -- Not listed

New York -- Not listed

Species Biology

Flowering May [week 3] - June [week 2]


Waldbauer, 1984

Mycophily -- Temnostoma spp.

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


Sherburne, 1972 Ridley, 1930 Martin,, 1951 (White, 1992)

Endozoochory -- via avian frugivores: Pinicola enucleator (Pine Grosbeak), Acanthis flammea (Redpoll), Cardinalis cardinalis (Cardinal), Vireo olivaceus (Red-eyed Vireo), Bonasa umbellus (Ruffed Grouse), Phasianus colchicus (Ring-necked Pheasant), Meleagris gallopava (Turkey), Turdus migratorius (Robin), 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), Sylvia spp. (Whitethroat), Colaptes auratus (Yellow-shafted Flicker), Dumetella carolinensis (Catbird), Spizella passerina (Chipping Sparrow), Cyanocitta cristata (Blue Jay),

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 Fedec, 1973

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 150+ days at 68[night]-86[day] degrees F followed by 60-120 days at 41 degrees F in moist sand has given good results. Seed can probably be stored in a sealed container at 41 degrees F with little loss of viability after two years.

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