(Viburnum alnifolium; V. lantanoides of Gray) Honeysuckle


Flowers - In loose, compound, flat, terminal clusters, 3 to 5 in.

across; the outer, showy, white flowers each about 1 in. across,

neutral; inner ones very much smaller, perfect. Calyx 5-parted;

corolla 5-lobed; 5 stamens; 3 stigmas. Stem: A widely and

irregularly branching shrub, sometimes 10 ft. high; the young

twigs rusty scurfy. Leaves: Opposite, rounded or broadly ovate,

pointed at the tip, finely saw-edged, unevenly divided by midrib,

scurfy on veins beneath. Fruit: Not edible, berry-like, at first

coral-red, afterward darker.

Preferred Habitat - Cool, low, moist woods.

Flowering Season - May-June.

Distribution - North Carolina and Michigan, far northward.

Widespread, irregular clusters of white bloom, that suggest heads

of hydrangea whose plan has somehow miscarried, form a very

decorative feature of the woods in May, when the shrubbery in

Nature's garden, as in men's, is in its glory. For what reason

are there two sizes and kinds of flowers in each cluster? Around

the outer margin are large showy shams: they lack the essential

organs, the stamens and pistil; therefore what use are they?

Undoubtedly they are mere advertisements to catch the eye of

passing insects - no small service, however. It is the

inconspicuous little flowers grouped within their circle that

attend to the serious business of life. The shrub found it good

economy to increase the size of the outer row of flowers, even at

the expense of their reproductive organs, simply to add to the

conspicuousness of the clusters, when so many blossoms enter into

fierce competition with them for insect trade. Many beetles,

attracted by the white color, come to feed on pollen, and often

destroy the anthers in their greed. But the lesser bees (Andrena

chiefly), and more flies, whose short tongues easily obtain the

accessible nectar, render constant service. These welcome guests

we have to thank for the clusters of coral-red berries that make

the shrub even more beautiful in September than in May.

Because it sometimes sends its straggling branches downward in

loops that touch the ground and trip up the unwary pedestrian,

who presumably hobbles off in pain, the bush received a name with

which the stumbler will be the last to find fault. From the bark

of the Wayfaring Tree of the Old World (V. lantana), the tips of

whose procumbent branches often take root as they lie on the

ground, is obtained bird-lime. No warm, sticky scales enclose the

buds of our hardy hobble-bush; the only protection for its tender

baby foliage is in the scurfy coat on its twigs; yet with this

thin covering, or without it, the young leaves safely withstand

the intense cold of northern winters.

The chief beauty of the HIGH BUSH-CRANBERRY, CRANBERRY TREE, or

WILD GUELDER-ROSE (V. Opulus) lies in its clusters of bright red,

oval, very acid "berries" (drupes), that are commonly used by

country people as a substitute for the fruit they so closely

resemble. This is a symmetrical, erect, tall, smooth shrub, found

in moist, low ground. Among the Berkshires it grows in

perfection. From New Jersey, Michigan, and Oregon far northward

is its range; also in Europe and Asia. The broadly ovate,

saw-edged, three-lobed leaves are more or less hairy along the

veins on the underside. Like the hobble-bush, this one produces

an outer circle of showy, neutral flowers, as advertisements, on

its peduncled, flat cluster; and small, perfect ones, to

reproduce the species, in June or July. As the flies and small

pollen-collecting bees move rapidly over a corymb to feast on the

layer of nectar freely exposed for their benefit, they usually

cross-fertilize the flowers; for, as Muller pointed out, the

anthers and stigmas of each come in contact with different parts

of the insect's feet or tongue. Beetles, which visit the clusters

in great numbers, often prove destructive visitors. Kerner claims

that nectar is secreted in the leaves of this species, whether in

the two glands that appear at the top of the petioles or not, he

does not say. Of what possible advantage to the plant could such

an arrangement be? Plants, as well as humans, are not in business

for philanthropy.

No garden is complete - was garden ever complete? - without the

beautiful SNOWBALL BUSH, a sterile variety of this shrub, with

whose abundant balls of white flowers everyone is familiar. When

various members of the viburnum and the hydrangea tribes are

cultivated, the corollas of both the small interior flowers and

those in the showy exterior circle become largely developed,

while the reproductive organs of the former gradually become

abortive. The snowball bush rather overdoes its advertising

business; for however attractive its round white masses of

sterile bloom, the effect is of no advantage to itself.

In light, dry, rocky woods, from North Carolina and Minnesota,

far northward, grows the common MAPLE-LEAVED ARROW-WOOD or

DOCKMACKIE (V. acerifolium), which one might easily mistake for a

maple sapling when it is not in flower or fruit. All the blossoms

in its slender peduncled, flat-topped, white clusters are

perfect; none are sterile for advertising purposes merely, as in

the cases of so many of its relatives. The five stamens protrude

from each five-lobed little flower for plain reasons. The

opposite leaves are broadly ovate, three-ribbed, three-lobed,

coarsely toothed, acute at the tip, and, except for their soft

hairiness underneath, are too like maple leaves to be mistaken.

In autumn, when they take on rich tints, and the clusters of

"berries" become first crimson, then nearly black, the shrub is a

delight to see.

To become familiar with one of the Viburnum bushes is to

recognize any member of the tribe when in blossom or fruit, for

all spread more or less flattened, compound cymes of white

flowers in late spring or early summer, followed by red or very

dark "berries" (drupes); but it is on the leaves that we depend

to name a species. The opposite, slender petioled, pale leaves of

the ARROW-WOOD or MEALY-TREE (V. dentalum), have no lobes; but

are ovate, coarsely toothed, pointed at the tip, prominently

pinnately veined. All the flowers in a cyme are perfect; and the

drupes, which are at first blue, become nearly black when fully

ripe. In moist, or even wet, ground, from the Georgia mountains,

western New York, and Minnesota far northward, this smooth,

slender, gray shrub is found. Its wood once furnished the Indians

with arrows.

A much lower growing, but similar, bush, the DOWNY-LEAVED

ARROW-WOOD (V. pubescens), formerly counted a mere variety of the

preceding, may be known by the velvety down on the under side of

its leaves. It grows in rocky, wooded places, often on some high

bank above a stream. Beetles and the less specialized bees visit

the flat-topped flower clusters abundantly in May. Short-tongued

visitors quickly lick up the abundant nectar secreted at the base

of each little style, cross-fertilizing their entertainers as

they journey across the cyme. So widely do the anthers diverge,

that pollen must often drop on the stigma of a neighboring

floret, and quite as often a flower is likely to be

self-fertilized through the curvature of the filaments.

The WITHE-ROD OR APPALACHIAN TEA (V. cassinoides; V. nudum of

Gray) is found in swamps and wet ground from North Carolina and

Minnesota northward, flowering in May or June. Its dense clusters

of perfect, small white flowers, on a rather short peduncle, are

followed by oval "berries" that, although pink at first, soon

turn a dark blue, with a bloom like the huckleberry's. The

opposite, oval to oblong, rather thick, smooth leaves and the

somewhat scurfy twigs help the novice to name this common shrub,

whose tough, pliable branches make excellent binders for farmer's

bundles, but whose leaves cannot be recommended as a substitute

for tea.

Beautiful enough for any gentleman's lawn is the SWEET VIBURNUM,

NANNY-BERRY, SHEEP-BERRY, or NANNY-BUSH, as it is variously

called (V. Lentago). Indeed, its name appears in many

nurserymen's catalogues. From Georgia, Indiana, and Missouri far

northward it grows in rich, moist soil, sometimes attaining the

height of a tree, more frequently that of a good-sized shrub. A

profusion of dense white, broad flower clusters, seated among the

rich green terminal leaves in May, indicate a feast for migrating

birds and hungry beasts, including the omnivorous small boy in

October, when the bluish-black, bloom-covered, sweet, edible

"berries" ripen. A peculiarity of the ovate, long-tapering, and

finely saw-edged leaves is that their long petioles often broaden

out and become wavy margined.

Another Viburnum, with smooth, bluish-black, sweet, and edible

fruit, that ripens a month earlier than the nanny-berry's, is the

similar BLACK HAW, STAG-BUSH or SLOE (V. prunifolium). As its

Latin name indicates, the leaves suggest those of a plum tree. It

is a very early bloomer; the flat-topped white clusters appearing

in April, and lasting through June, in various parts of its range

from the Gulf States to southern New England and Michigan. Unlike

the hobble-bush and the withe-rod, both the nanny-berry and the

black haw have conspicuous winter buds, the latter bush often

clothing its tender undeveloped foliage with warm-looking reddish

down, although few of its naked kin have so southerly a range.


(Sicyos angulatus) Gourd family

Flowers - Small, greenish-white, 5-parted, of 2 kinds: staminate

ones in a loose raceme on a very long peduncle; fertile ones

clustered in a little head on a short peduncle. Stem: A climbing

vine with branched tendrils; more or less sticky-hairy. Leaves:

Broad, 5-angled or 5-lobed, heart-shaped at base, rough,

sometimes enormous, on stout petioles. Fruit: From 3 to 10

bur-like, yellowish, prickly seed-vessels in a star-shaped

cluster, each containing one seed.

Preferred Habitat - Moist, shady waste ground; banks of streams.

Flowering Season - June-September.

Distribution - Quebec to the Gulf States, and westward beyond the


In a damp, shady, waste corner, perhaps the first weed to take

possession is the star cucumber, a poor relation of the musk and

water melons, the squash, cucumber, pumpkin, and gourd of the

garden. Its sole use yet discovered is to screen ugly fences and

rubbish heaps by climbing and trailing luxuriantly over

everything within reach. That it thinks more highly of its own

importance in the world than men do of it, is shown by the

precaution it takes to insure a continuance of its species. By

separating the sexes of its flowers, like Quakers at meeting, it

prevents self-fertilization, and compels its small-winged

visitors to carry the smooth-banded, rough pollen from the

staminate to the tiny pistillate group. By roughening its angled

stem and leaves, it discourages pilfering ants and other crawlers

from reaching the sweets reserved for legitimate benefactors. So

extremely sensitive are the tips of the tendrils that by rubbing

them with the finger they will coil up perceptibly; then

straighten out again if they find they have been deceived, and

that there is no stick for them to twine around. Give them a

stick, however, and the coils remain fixed.


(Nabalus albus) Chickory family

Flower-heads - Composite, numerous, greenish or cream white, or

tinged with lilac, fragrant, nodding; borne in loose, open,

narrow terminal, and axillary clusters. Each bell-like flowerhead

only about 1/4 in. across, composed of 8 to 15 ray flowers,

drooping from a cup-like involucre consisting of 8 principal,

colored bracts. Stem: 2 to 5 ft. high, smooth, green or dark

purplish red, leafy, from a tuberous, bitter root. Leaves:

Alternate, variable, sometimes very large, broad, hastate, ovate,

or heart-shaped, wavy-toothed, lobed, or palmately cleft; upper

leaves smaller, lance-shaped, entire.

Preferred Habitat - Woods; rich, moist borders; roadsides.

Flowering Season - August-September.

Distribution - Southern Canada to Georgia and Kentucky.

Nodding in graceful, open clusters from the top of a shining

colored stalk, the inconspicuous little bell-like flowers of this

common plant spread their rays to release the branching styles

for contact with pollen-laden visitors. These styles presently

become a bunch of cinnamon-colored hairs, a seed-tassel

resembling a sable paint brush - the principal feature that

distinguishes this species from the smaller-flowered TALL WHITE

LETTUCE (N. altissimus), whose pappus is a light straw color.

Both these plants are most easily recognized when their fluffy,

plumed seeds are waiting for a stiff breeze to waft them to fresh

colonizing ground.

HIGH BUSH BLACKBERRY BRAMBLE HOLYHERB, ENCHANTER'S PLANT, JUNO'S TEARS, PIGEONGRASS, facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail