Shrub or small tree to 8 m tall Leaves: opposite, stalked, 3 - 8 cm long, egg-shaped to oblong or elliptic with a rounded base and blunt to pointed tip, minutely toothed, pinnately veined. Leaf stalks reddish, 5 - 12 mm long, often slightly winged. Flowers: in dense, branched clusters (cymes), which are borne terminally on the stems. Cymes stalkless or nearly so, mostly four-rayed, 5 - 10 cm wide, dome-shaped. Corolla five-lobed, white, 4 - 7 mm wide. Stamens five, upright, exserted from the corolla. Filaments to 4 mm long. Anthers yellow. Stigma three-lobed. Fruit: berry-like (drupe), in hanging clusters, bluish black with a whitish bloom, 9 - 15 mm long, rounded to oval, single-seeded. Twigs: moderately stiff. The branches, which have many opposite, short shoots borne at right angles, resemble fish skeletons when the leaves fall. Form: rounded.
Similar species: Viburnum lantana is similar but is covered with star-shaped hairs. Viburnum lentago is also similar but has long-pointed leaf tips and leaf stalks with wavy margins. Viburnum nudum var. cassinoides differs by having cymes on 5 mm - 5 cm long stalks.
Flowering: May to late June
Habitat and ecology: Locally frequent in moist woods.
Occurence in the Chicago region: native
Notes: About 200 species of Viburnum occur between North America, Europe and Asia. Many are ornamental shrubs cultivated for their showy flowers, autumn foliage, and attraction to wildlife.
Etymology: Viburnum is the Latin word for the Wayfaring tree. Prunifolium means "with leaves colored like a Plum."
Shrub or small tree to 8 m; stem and foliage glabrous, or sparsely brown-scurfy when young; petioles 5-12 mm, wingless or nearly so; lvs oblong or elliptic to obovate, rounded to apiculate or acute at the tip, serrulate, obtuse to rounded at the base, the floral ones mostly 3-5 cm at anthesis, those on sterile stems eventually 6-8 cm; cyme sessile (3)4-rayed, 5-10 cm wide; cor 4-7 mm wide; fr sweetish, blue-black, 9-15 mm, ellipsoid to subglobose; cal-tube forming a ring at the tip of the fr; stone flat, scarcely grooved; 2n=18. Woods, thickets, and roadsides; Conn. to s. Wis., s. Io., and Kans., s. to Ga. and Tex. Apr., May. (V. bushii)
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.