Walter’s viburnum (Viburnum obovatum)
Click on terms for botanical definitions.
Walter’s viburnum is an evergreen* woody shrub to small tree that produces profuse clusters of dainty white flowers. Its leaves are small (about 1” in length), spatulate in shape, and oppositely arranged. They are dark green and leathery and may have either entire or slightly toothed margins.
Walter’s viburnum typically flowers in spring. It occurs naturally in hydric hammocks, riverine forests, floodplain swamps and bottomland forests. Pollinators are attracted to its showy flower clusters, while birds and other wildlife feast on its abundant summer and fall fruit production and use its dense foliage for nesting and cover.
This species was previously placed in the Caprifoliaceae (honeysuckle) family.
Family: Adoxaceae (Moschatel family)
Native range: Panhandle, North and South-central peninsula
To see where natural populations of Walter’s viburnum have been vouchered, visit florida.plantatlas.usf.edu.
Soil: Moist to wet, fertile soils
Exposure: Full sun to full shade
Growth habit: varies, up to 12’
Propagation: Cuttings, seeds
Garden tips: Walter’s viburnum makes a great hedgerow, or border/screening plant and can be pruned to a preferred shape and height. It is fast-growing, extremely adaptable to a broad range of conditions, and hurricane wind resistant. It is best propagated by cuttings; seeds require scarification before planting and may not germinate for several years, although specimens are known to self-seed. It is also known to spread by suckering.
*Walter’s viburnum may experience a brief deciduous period in North Florida and/or in colder winter temperatures.
Walter’s viburnum is often available at nurseries that specialize in native plants. Visit PlantRealFlorida.org to find a native nursery on your area.