Black Haw

Black Haw

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Viburnum prunifolium
Adoxaceae (elders and viburnums) (formerly in the Caprifoliaceae, or honeysuckles)

A shrub or small tree with stiff, spreading branches forming an irregular crown near the top.

Leaves opposite, simple, 1½–3 inches long, elliptical, margin finely toothed, pointing inward or upward, upper surface dull green and not shiny; lower surface paler and smooth; leaf stalk green to red, slender, not winged, broadly grooved.

Bark dark gray to brown, furrowed into rectangular plates.

Twigs slender, rigid, with short lateral spurs.

Flowers April–May, numerous, small, white, in flattened, round-topped clusters 2–4 inches wide.

Fruits September–October, ½ inch long, elliptical, blue-black berry with a whitish coating; on long red stalks; flesh thin and dry but edible and sweet; seed solitary, oval, flat, in a hard covering that is grooved on one side.

Height: 30 feet; spread: 20 feet.
Habitat and conservation: 
Found in every county in Missouri, occurring in rocky woods, along rocky stream banks, roadsides, and fence rows and on dry rocky hillsides. It has beautiful fall color: deep lavender or maroon-purple, finally becoming deep rose-red, contrasting with clusters of blue-black berries, borne on red stalks, that happen to be quite tasty. If you are thinking of planting one, remember it prefers average soil and full sun.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Human connections: 
The reds and purples of the autumn foliage and the edible berries make this a good native shrub for landscaping. It can also double as a windbreak. Decades ago, when more Americans led rural lives and walked more, the fruits were nibbled on by many. The root bark has been used medicinally.
Ecosystem connections: 
Many birds eat the berries, including the cardinal, cedar waxwing, robin, ruffed grouse, and wild turkey. Mammals that relish the berries include deer, rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, skunks, and mice. Deer and beaver eat the twigs, bark, and leaves. Many animals use this shrub for cover.
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