Viburnum

ViburnumViburnum — Viburnum (Viburnum) is a genus of about 150-175 species of shrubs or (in a few species) small trees that were previously included in the family Caprifoliaceae. Genetic tests by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group showed however that they are correctly classified in the family Adoxaceae.

They are native throughout the temperate Northern Hemisphere, with a few species extending into tropical montane regions in South America and southeast Asia. In Africa, the genus is confined to the Atlas Mountains.

The leaves are opposite, simple, and entire, toothed or lobed; cool temperate species are deciduous, while most of the warm temperate species are evergreen. Some species are densely hairy on the shoots and leaves, with star-shaped hairs.

The flowers are produced in corymbs 5-15 cm across, each flower white to cream or pink, small, 3-5 mm across, with five petals, strongly fragrant in some species. The gynoecium has 3 connate carpels with the nectary on top of the gynoecium. Some species also have a fringe of large, showy sterile flowers round the perimeter of the corymb to act as a pollinator target.

The fruit is a spherical, oval or somewhat flattened drupe, red to purple, blue, or black, and containing a single seed; they are eaten by birds and other wildlife, and some are edible for humans (though many others are mildly poisonous to people). The leaves are sometimes eaten by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species – see list of Lepidoptera that feed on Viburnum.

Many species of viburnum have become popular as garden or landscape plants because of their showy flowers and berries and generally good autumn colour.

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