Viburnum lentago

Nannyberry Viburnum, Sheepberry




  • native to eastern North America
  • hardy to zone 2

Habit and Form

  • multistemmed
  • deciduous
  • a large shrub or small tree if trained as such
  • reaches 12' to 15 tall or larger
  • shape is irregular to rounded
  • branching is upright to irregular
  • branch tips typically arch over
  • somewhat open at maturity and leggy at the base
  • often suckers at the base

Summer Foliage

  • opposite, simple leaves
  • leaves have an elliptic-obovate shape
  • leaves are 2" to 5" long
  • leaf apex is acuminate
  • petiole is distinctly winged with a wavy margin
  • leaves with finely toothed margins
  • emerging leaf color is light green
  • mature foliage is a dark glossy green

Autumn Foliage

  • can be purple-red
  • not dependable for good fall color


  • small, creamy white flowers in flat clusters
  • flower clusters are 3" to 4.5" in diameter
  • bloom time is mid to late May
  • reasonably floriferous and showy in full bloom


  • 0.5" long oval drupes
  • held in pendulous clusters
  • fruit color changes from green to yellow, pink, rose and finally to blue-black
  • fruit is most appealing before it turns blue black during the color transition
  • ripe and rotting fruit smell like wet sheep wool


  • dark grey to black
  • breaks up into a pattern of small blocks


  • sun or shade
  • tolerant of both moist and dry soils
  • very adaptable to many sites
  • easily transplanted and established
  • suckers readily from the base

Landscape Use

  • naturalizing
  • shrub borders
  • difficult sites
  • small flowering tree
  • to attract birds and wildlife
  • hedges
  • background plant
  • barrier
  • useful for flowers and fruit


  • suckers readily from the base
  • can get mealybug
  • powdery mildew can be a problem

ID Features

  • winged, wavy edge to petioles
  • opposite, simple leaves
  • leaves with a distinctly acuminate tip
  • 0.5" long oval drupes
  • fruit color is yellow, pink, rose or blue-black
  • decaying fruits smell like wet sheep wool
  • valvate bud scales
  • flower buds are long pointed with a swollen base
  • swollen base of flower buds don't split open as in V. cassinoides


  • by cuttings
  • by seed


None are commonly available, but several perhaps deserve more attention.

'Deep Green' - This is a handsome large growing selection that reaches 20' tall and features lustrous leaves.

'Pink Beauty' - Not commonly available, this selection offers a variation with the fruit. The pink drupes turn purple with age.

© Copyright Mark H. Brand, 1997-2015.

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Citation and Acknowledgements: University of Connecticut Plant Database,, Mark H. Brand, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, Storrs, CT 06269-4067 USA.