Cranberries

The cranberries, or Viburnum sp., are a popular, useful, good-looking group of shrubs. They range in height from the ground-hugging native to shrubs that can be mistaken for trees. All have large clusters of bright white flowers, and later most have clusters of small dark berries that grew from the flowers. Most also have excellent fall color. Usually pest free, they are a highly recommended group of shrubs. I should mention the native bog cranberry, Vaccinium vitis-idaea or lingonberry, which is not related to the Viburnum shrubs. This low-lying shrub produces the most delicious small cranberry fruit, the dream compliment to a roast turkey dinner. Found in wet wooded areas, it is worth the hunt.

The nannyberry, Virburnum lentago, is the tallest of the cranberries, 3-4 metres high, narrower. It does not form a shrubby ball, but has a more upright form with white flowers, black fruit, shiny leaves, red to purple fall color.

The high bush cranberry, Viburnum trilobum, is another large, 3-metre shrub. In maturity it is usually quite open, with white flowers and red fruit with a flat seed. It does have a cranberry flavor, not great.

The wayfaring tree, Virburnum lantana, is perhaps the best choice of the large cranberies. It can grow to 3 metres high, and as wide. These prune very well; thinned out and raised, they make a beautiful "little tree". With fuzzy dark green leaves, white flowers and black fruit, they are a personal favorite.

The arrowwood, Virburnum dentatum, is another largeish shrub, 2 metres plus. It has good fall color, white flowers and black fruit.

The snowberry bush, Virburnum opulus, is a beautiful shrub. The tight white flower clusters form what looks like snowballs. It grows to about 2 metres.

The compactum, Virburnum trilobum 'Compactum' is just a much smaller version of the highbush cranberry, usually under a metre. Non-flowering, tight growing, use it as a foliage statement.

Cranberries, especially the Compactum, are susceptible to the erineum gall mite. Its feeding on the bottom of leaves produces a red felt-like surface, relatively harmless.