High Bush Cranberry


High Bush Cranberry (Viburnum trilobum)

Description:

This is one of our more confusing native shrubs, since it is not a true cranberry and has a European cousin (Viburnum opulus) that is quite common locally. It grows up to 15 feet (4.6 m) high, with clusters of white flowers in late June. Fruits are cranberry-size and bright red, often hanging on throughout the winter. Leaves are three-lobed and maple-like, but vary considerably even on the same shrub. Buds are opposite and the tips of twigs die back during the winter. Bark is smooth and gray to light brown. The European variety is generally found around homesteads and parks and produces bitter fruit often totally ignored by wildlife. The native variety is more at home along streams, swamps and low, open woods. Its berries are tastier and seldom last through winter.

Growing Conditions:

Can be found in damp thickets and moist woods, but will grow on drier sites. It does best on rich soils and full sunlight although it is quite tolerant of a variety of conditions.

Propagation:

If you can find sources of native high bush cranberry, cuttings are the easiest method of propagation. Summer cuttings work especially well, with success rates usually over 90 per cent. Seed takes two years to germinate but should give satisfactory results. Make sure to either clean the fruit or crush the berries between your fingers to break the skin before planting. Each fruit contains one flat seed.

Wildlife Uses:

Native high bush cranberry fruits are much more desirable for wildlife than those of the showier European variety. It is a preferred food only of ruffed grouse and cedar waxwing, but fruit is also eaten by over 20 other species. More importantly, fruits hang on throughout the winter and serve as critical emergency food when other sources are not available. Because the tips die over the winter, plants become very bushy as they get older. They provide valuable cover and are used as nesting sites by several species of birds.

Areas of Usage:

For landscape planting, it is hard to beat high bush cranberry. While not the best of our shrubs for wildlife, it is a very attractive plant and the persistent ruby-red berries are a pleasing sight throughout the winter. Berries are edible and were once commonly used with other fruits in pies and jams. Around the home, plant high bush cranberry singly, in clumps or as a hedge. These plants can also be used as part of a windbreak, along streams or when planting the edges of ponds. Since they can grow in sun or shade and in moist or dry conditions, you have flexibility in planning where to use them. Unfortunately, they are sensitive to salt spray and should not be used along roadsides and shorelines.

Upcoming Events

Jul
6
Mon
9:00 pm Summer Camp: Young Ecologists Se...
Summer Camp: Young Ecologists Se...
Jul 6 @ 9:00 pm – Jul 10 @ 3:00 pm
Young Ecologists: Session One This camp will begin to introduce the campers to the amazing complexity of our native Acadian forests. They will dissect owl pellets, take part in forest restoration planning and plantings and
Jul
13
Mon
9:00 pm Summer Camp: Nature Discovery Se...
Summer Camp: Nature Discovery Se...
Jul 13 @ 9:00 pm – Jul 17 @ 3:00 pm
Nature Discovery: Session One This camp will introduce the children to the woods, stream and native tree nursery that surround our Nature Center. The campers will delight in learning to use all their senses to
Jul
20
Mon
9:00 pm Summer Camp: Becoming a Naturali...
Summer Camp: Becoming a Naturali...
Jul 20 @ 9:00 pm – Jul 24 @ 3:00 pm
Becoming a Naturalist Session One This camp focuses on encountering and describing the natural world. Through the use of art and other hands-on outdoor activities, they’ll expand their understanding of life in the woodlands, waterways,
Jul
25
Sat
10:00 am Tracking the Mammals of PEI
Tracking the Mammals of PEI
Jul 25 @ 10:00 am – 11:30 am
Come on out and learn about the native and introduced mammals found on PEI, as well as a brief look at some of the mammals we’ve lost. After a brief slideshow, we’ll head off to
Jul
27
Mon
9:00 pm Summer Camp: Bushcraft Ecology A...
Summer Camp: Bushcraft Ecology A...
Jul 27 @ 9:00 pm – Jul 31 @ 3:00 pm
Bushcraft Ecology Ages 12-14 These campers will delight in learning survival skills such as one-match fire making, shelter building, rope making with natural fibres, and tracking animals. Touching on plant and tree identification, campers will

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