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May 12, 2021

Darrell Blackwelder column: Blackhaw is in bloom

There are white blooms dotting the woods and outlying areas in Rowan County near the lake. From far away the small blooms resemble that of Bradford pear or maybe a dogwood, but closer observation reveals the bloom as that of the blackhaw viburnum (Viburnum prunifolium). These are small, deciduous trees with snowy, white flowers are now in full bloom and readily found on the edge of woodlands or fields. The shrub often evolves into a small tree reaching a height of 15 feet.

This endogenous shrub or small tree is in the honeysuckle family from Virginia down to Florida and to the Midwest. As the showy flowers fade away, the tree forms small, shiny leaves, inconspicuously fading into wooded areas producing small, black fruit. The fruit ripens in the fall, a ready source of food for songbirds, squirrels and chipmunks; however, the tree and fruit are deer resistant. The blackhaw is a tough tree with virtually no insect or disease problems and tolerates both drought and varying soil pH levels generally found in Rowan County. The native plant can be propagated by seeds or cuttings from an existing tree or shrub. Go to  https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/all/viburnum-prunifolium/ for more detailed information.

Darrell Blackwelder is the retired horticulturalist in Rowan County with the NC Cooperative Extension Service. Contact him at deblackw@ncsu.edu .

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