New York Metropolitan Flora

Viburnum setigerum Hance - Tea Viburnum

Viburnum setigerum
Photo by Steven D. Glenn

Non-native , Occasional

By Steven D. Glenn

Not peer reviewed

Last Modified 05/22/2013

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Viburnum setigerum

Common Names

Tea Viburnum

Field Identification

Shrub, usually leggy, vase-shaped, with opposite toothed leaves; with clusters of small white flowers followed by red-orange berries.

Other uses

(Rehder, 1940) (Flint, 1983)

Used as an ornamental in landscaping situations, hardy to USDA zone 5.


Viburnum setigerum Hance, J. Bot. 20: 261. 1882.
Viburnum phlebotrichum sensu Hemsley, J. Linn. Soc. Lond. Bot. 23: 354. 1888, not Sieb. & Zucc. 1846.
Viburnum theiferum Rehder in Sargent, Trees & Shrubs 2: 45, t. 121. 1907.
Viburnum bodinieri Leveille, Repert. Sp. Nov. Reg. Veg. 9: 442. 1911.
TYPE: unknown

*Viburnum setigerum f. aurantiacum Rehder, J. Arnold Arb. 12: 78. 1931.
TYPE: unknown


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

STEMS Main stems ascending or erect, round. Bark smooth, not exfoliating, gray. Branches ascending. Twigs brown or gray, not odoriferous, terete, 1.4-4 mm in diam., smooth, glabrous or with long and unbranched hairs, erect or appressed or spreading, light brown or white, sparse, distributed apically, eglandular, or with sessile, reddish-orange glands. Hairs and glands restricted to current 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, scattered along stem; terminal bud lancelolate, 4-15 mm long, pointed; axillary buds 1 per axil, lanceloate, 2-4 mm long, pointed. Bud scales 4, dark red or orange-red, glabrous, eglandular. Bud scale scars not encircling the stem. Leaf scars thinly crescent-shaped. Vascular bundle scars 3, crescent-shaped.

LEAVES Opposite, simple, spiral, 2 per node, spaced somewhat evenly along stem, divergent from stem. Stipules absent. Leaves petiolate, petiole furrowed, 0.8-2 cm long, with long and unbranched hairs, erect or appressed or spreading, sparse, distributed throughout, not glabrescent. With sessile, orange-red glands. Leaf blades: abaxial surface light green, adaxial surface green, lanceolate or oblong or ovate, bilaterally symmetric, 6-14 cm long, 2.5-7.5 cm wide, chartaceous, base obtuse or cordate, margin toothed, denticulate, apex acuminate (sometimes also falcate), abaxial surface with long and unbranched hairs, erect or appressed or spreading, light brown or white, sparse or moderately dense, distributed along midveins. With sessile, orange-red glands. Adaxial surface glabrous or with long and unbranched hairs, erect or appressed or spreading, light brown or white, sparse, distributed along midveins, with sessile, orange-red glands. Leaves usually dry much darker.

INFLORESCENCES Bisexual, compound, terminal umbelliform cyme (usually 5-rayed); sparsely long hairy and orange-red glandular throughout below pedicels. Peduncle 1-2.5 cm long. Rachis absent. Bracts sessile, linear triangular, apex acute, caducous. Pedicel 1-2 mm long, tinged with red, with long and unbranched hairs, hairs erect or appressed or spreading, light brown or white, sparse, distributed throughout; with sessile, orange-red glands. Bracteoles 0 or 1, at base of pedicel or at apex of pedicel, linear triangular, apex acute, caducous.

FLOWERS Serotinous, formed on last season's growth, bisexual, with sepals and petals readily distinguishable from one another, 5-merous, 5-6 mm wide, fragrance absent, perianth of two whorls. Calyx actinomorphic, tubular, of fused sepals, persistent, abaxial and adaxial surfaces light red-violet. Sepal lobes 5, widely ovate, 0.5 mm long, 0.5 mm wide, margin entire, apex obtuse, abaxial surface glabrous, eglandular. Corolla actinomorphic, acetabuliform, of fused petals, deciduous, abaxial and adaxial surfaces white, 5-6 mm wide. Petal lobes 5, widely ovate, 1.5-2 mm long, 2-2.5 mm wide, margin entire (sometimes minutely papillose), 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 alternate, epipetalous, exserted, haplostemous. Stamens 5. Anthers yellow, glabrous, eglandular. Filaments straight, white, glabrous, adnate to base of petals.

FRUITS Drupe, red to reddish orange (f. aurantiacum - yellowish-orange), ovoid, 8-10 mm long, 5-6 mm wide, glabrous, eglandular.

SEEDS Seeds 1, light yellowish-orange, lenticular, 8-9 mm long, 5-5.5 mm wide, glabrous, eglandular, pusticulate, with thickened margins and a central rib.


Usually found naturalizing in moist to mesic woods.


Indigenous to central and western China, becoming naturalized in the eastern United States.

United States -- CT, KY, NJ, NY

New York Metropolitan Region -- Escaping from cultivation and naturalizing throughout the metropolitan region, especially along the coast.

Rarity Status

Heritage Global Rank -- G5

Species Biology

Flowering May [week 2] - June [week 1]


Waldbauer, 1984

Mycophily -- Temnostoma spp.

Fruiting June [week 4] - October [week 4}


Martin, 1951 Ridley, 1930

Probably Endozoochory -- 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),

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)


Fedec, 1973 Giersbach, 1937 Schopmeyer, 1974

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). 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