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Smooth Black-haw (Viburnum prunifolium)

Life history

Species overview

Smooth Black-haw (Viburnum prunifolium), a Wisconsin Special Concern plant, is found in rich, hardwood forests, often with dolomite near the surface. Blooming occurs late May through late June; fruiting occurs early July through early September. The optimal identification period for this species is late May through early September.

Synonyms: Viburnum bushii, Viburnum prunifolium var. bushii, Viburnum prunifolium var. globosum, Viburnum prunifolium var. prunifolium


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Distinguished from other viburnums that have anastamosing leaf veins (branching and reforming before reaching margins), by having very short peduncles (less than 5 mm) and having petioles narrowly winged or wingless.
  • Flower characteristics: Many small, mostly white flowers in umbelliform inflorescence, 5 to 10 cm wide.
  • Fruit characteristics: Drupe sweetish, blue-black, 9 to 15 mm; stone flat, scarcely grooved.
  • Leaf characteristics: Opposite, oblong or elliptic, rounded to acute at the tip, edges serrulate, obtuse to rounded at the base; floral leaves 2 to 5 cm; leaves on sterile stems 6 to 8 cm in length.


  • Blooming phenology: late May through late June
  • Fruiting phenology: early July through early September
  • Optimum time to identify: The optimal identification period for this species is late May through early September


  • Growth form: Shrub/small tree
  • Vegetative reproduction:
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Acer saccharum, Tilia americana, Fraxinus americana, Carya cordiformis, Juglans nigra, Ulmus rubra, Fagus grandifolia, Solidago ulmifolia, Galium concinnum.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Smooth Black-haw (Viburnum prunifolium). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.

Documented locations of Viburnum prunifolium in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusSC
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS2
Global RankG5
Tracked by NHIY

Habitats and landscapes

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

General habitat information

  • Habitat description: Found in rich, hardwood forests, often with dolomite near the surface.
  • Soils: Moist to dry, often clayey soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Smooth Black-haw. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).

Natural communities score
Floodplain Forest 2
Southern Mesic Forest 3

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Smooth Black-haw. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Species guidance

The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.

Avoidance measures

These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.

  • Avoid broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.
  • Avoid locating landings, staging areas, or access routes on or near known populations.
  • Avoid known individual plant locations and conduct operations elsewhere when they are least likely to cause damage. Ideally, this would involve frozen, snow-covered ground. However, in areas of the state where frozen conditions are unreliable, very dry soils late in the growing season might be the best available alternative. Consult with a biologist, if needed.

Management guidance

Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species

  • Minimize disturbance to hydrology, including soil disturbance from rutting.
  • Avoid rapid and dramatic reductions in canopy cover or basal area in wet areas to reduce risk of swamping.


Smooth Black-haw Photo.

Photo by Ryan O'Connor, Wisconsin DNR.

Smooth Black-haw Photo.

Photo by Ryan O'Connor, Wisconsin DNR.

Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin [exit DNR].

Last revised: Wednesday, May 05, 2021
Southwest Savanna Southern Lake Michigan Coastal Western Coulees and Ridges Southeast Glacial Plains Central Sand Hills Central Lake Michigan Coastal Central Sand Plains Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northeast Sands Western Prairie North Central Forest Northern Highlands Northwest Lowlands Northwest Sands Northwest Lowlands Superior Coastal Plains Forest Transition