Alternate name: Sour Guelder Rose
Family: Caprifoliaceae, Honeysuckle view all from this family
Description Viburnum opulus (Guelder Rose, Water Elder, European Cranberrybush, Cramp Bark, Snowball Tree) is native to Europe and Asia. Some botanists also treat the closely related North American species Viburnum trilobum as a variety of it (as Viburnum opulus var. americanum Ait.), or a subspecies, Viburnum opulus subsp. trilobum (Marshall) Clausen. The common name 'Guelder Rose' appears to have originated because a popular cultivar, the Snowball tree supposedly first originated in the Dutch province of Gelderland.
It is a deciduous shrub growing to 4-5 m tall. The leaves are opposite, three-lobed, 5-10 cm 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 diameter at the top of the stems; each corymb comprises a ring of outer sterile flowers 1.5-2 cm 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.
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.
The dried bark is used in a tincture, known as "Cramp Bark," to alleviate painful menstrual cramps.
Viburnum opulus (Kalyna) is the National symbol of Ukraine.
Habitat Cities, suburbs & towns.
Range Northwest, New England, Southwest, Southeast, Plains, Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic, Rocky Mountains.