Viburnum opulus

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Viburnum opulus
Plant with fruit
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Dipsacales
Family: Adoxaceae
Genus: Viburnum
Species: V. opulus
Binomial name
Viburnum opulus
L.

Viburnum opulus (common name guelder rose) is a species of flowering plant in the family Adoxaceae (formerly Caprifoliaceae) native to Europe, northern Africa and central Asia.[1]

Names[edit]

The common name 'guelder rose' relates to the Dutch province of Gelderland, where a popular cultivar, the snowball tree, supposedly originated.[2] Other common names include water elder, cramp bark, snowball tree and European cranberry bush, though this plant is not closely related to the cranberry. Some botanists also include the North American species Viburnum trilobum as V. opulus var. americanum Ait., or as V. opulus subsp. trilobum (Marshall) Clausen.

Description[edit]

Flowers (left) and fruit

V. opulus is a deciduous shrub growing to 4–5 m (13–16 ft) tall. The leaves are opposite, three-lobed, 5–10 cm (2–4 in) long and broad, with a rounded base and coarsely serrated margins; they are superficially similar to the leaves of some maples, most easily distinguished by their somewhat wrinkled surface with impressed leaf venation. The leaf buds are green, with valvate bud scales.

The hermaphrodite flowers are white, produced in corymbs 4–11 cm (2–4 in) in diameter at the top of the stems; each corymb comprises a ring of outer sterile flowers 1.5–2 cm in diameter with conspicuous petals, surrounding a center of small (5 mm), fertile flowers; the flowers are produced in early summer, and pollinated by insects. The fruit is a globose bright red drupe 7–10 mm diameter, containing a single seed. The seeds are dispersed by birds.

Cultivation[edit]

V. opulus is grown as an ornamental plant for its flowers and berries, growing best on moist, moderately alkaline soils, though tolerating most soil types well. Several cultivars have been selected, including 'Roseum' (synonym 'Sterile', 'Snowball'), in which all the flowers are only of the larger sterile type, with globular flower heads. There is some confusion, as there are a few other plants, including other members of the Viburnum genus, also referred to as "snowball bush".

The shrub is also cultivated as a component of hedgerows, cover plantings, and as part of other naturalistic plantings in its native regions.

It is naturalised in North America, where it has been misleadingly renamed "European Cranberrybush" (it is not a cranberry).

The cultivars 'Compactum',[3] 'Roseum'[4] and 'Xanthocarpum'[5] have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.

Other uses[edit]

The fruit is edible in small quantities, with a very acidic taste; it can be used to make jelly. It is however very mildly toxic, and may cause vomiting or diarrhea if eaten in large amounts.[6]

Cultural meaning[edit]

Viburnum opulus (Kalyna) is one of the National symbols of Ukraine[citation needed]. Mentions of the bush can be found throughout the Ukrainian folklore such as songs, picturesque art, Ukrainian embroidery, and others. Chervona Kalyna was the anthem of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. Kalyna Country is an ecomuseum in Canada.

This bush's symbolic roots can be traced to the Slavic paganism of millennia ago. According to a legend Kalyna was associated with the birth of the Universe, the so-called Fire Trinity: the Sun, the Moon, and the Star.[7][8] Its berries symbolize blood and the undying trace of family roots. Kalyna is often depicted on the Ukrainian embroidery: towels and shirts. In Slavic paganism kalyna also represents the beauty of a young lady which rhymes well in the Ukrainian language: Ka-ly-na - Div-chy-na.[9][10][11] That consistency was reviewed by numerous Ukrainian folklorists such as Nikolay Kostomarov, Aleksandr Potebnia (founder of the Kharkiv Linguistic School).

References[edit]

  1. Blamey, M. & Grey-Wilson, C. (1989). Flora of Britain and Northern Europe. Hodder & Stoughton.
  2. Huxley, A., ed. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. Macmillan.
  3. Flora Europaea: Viburnum opulus
  4. Plants for a Future: Viburnum opulus