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.
This species, no doubt, was native in every county of the state. More or less frequent in moist woods throughout the state, except in the hilly counties where it becomes more or less rare, and its place is taken by Viburnum rufidulum.