Mapleleaf Viburnum (Acerifolium)

The Mapleleaf Viburnum (Acerifolium) is generally described as a perennial shrub or subshrub. This is native to the U.S. (United States) has its most active growth period in the spring and summer . The Mapleleaf Viburnum (Acerifolium) has green foliage and inconspicuous white flowers, with a moderate amount of conspicuous red fruits or seeds. The greatest bloom is usually observed in the indeterminate, with fruit and seed production starting in the summer and continuing until fall. Leaves are not retained year to year. The Mapleleaf Viburnum (Acerifolium) has a long life span relative to most other plant species and a slow growth rate. At maturity, the typical Mapleleaf Viburnum (Acerifolium) will reach up to 6 feet high, with a maximum height at 20 years of 6 feet.

The Mapleleaf Viburnum (Acerifolium) is not commonly available from nurseries, garden stores and other plant dealers and distributors. It can be propagated by bare root, container, seed. It has a slow ability to spread through seed production and the seedlings have low vigor. Note that cold stratification is not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive exposure to temperatures below -28°F. has high tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

Deer, rabbits, mice, skunks, ruffed grouse, ring-necked pheasants, wild turkeys, and many species of songbirds eat the fruits of maple-leaf viburnum. Deer, moose, rabbits, and beavers eat the twigs, bark, and leaves. The relatively low-growing plants provide good nesting and escape cover for birds and small mammals.

Maple-leaf viburnum has long been cultivated for its attractive summer flowers and foliage; then the autumn leaves turn rose-purple and contrast with the mature dark fruits. The plants will thrive in moist soils and a range of light conditions but they are a good choice for dry soils in deep shade. They can be used along forest edges, streamsides, and lakeshores.

General Characteristics

General: Honeysuckle family (Caprifoliaceae). Native shrubs 0.5-2 m high, rhizomatous and forming

thickets; twigs pubescent. Leaves deciduous, ovate or orbicular, mostly deeply 3-lobed, 5-12 cm broad, coarsely toothed, lower surface minutely black-dotted, nearly glabrous to thinly pubescent with stellate hairs. Flowers white, bisexual, 4-6 mm wide, in upright, flat-topped clusters 4-7 cm wide. Fruit berry-like (drupes), 6-8 mm long, nearly black, with a single stone.

Variation within the species: No varieties are currently formally recognized within V. acerifolium – previous named varieties within the species have described vaguely discernible and widely overlapping geographic trends of morphological variation. V. acerifolium var. acerifolium V. acerifolium var. densiflorum (Chapm.) McAtee V. acerifolium var. glabrescens Rehd. V. acerifolium var. ovatum (Rehd.) McAtee

Required Growing Conditions

Widely distributed in eastern North America, New Brunswick (rare), Quebec, and Ontario south through Wisconsin, Illinois, and Arkansas to Florida and eastward into east Texas. For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.

Adaptation Maple-leaf viburnum occurs in upland forests, hillsides, and ravine slopes. It grows best in well-drained, moist soils and is tolerant of acid soils. It requires partial shading for optimum growth and development and occurs primarily in mid- to late-seral communities. It is a common understory species in beech-maple forests in the northeastern and midwestern United States; along the Gulf coastal plain, it is found in rich deciduous woods, often with white oak. Flowering May-August; fruiting July-October.

Cultivation and Care

Maple-leaf viburnum begins seed production at about 2 years of age and produces abundant fruit every year. Most seeds have an impermeable seedcoat and embryo dormancy that requires a warm-cold stratification sequence to be broken. Vegetative reproduction through rhizomes is extensive.

General Upkeep and Control

Low- to moderate-severity fires top-kill maple-leaf viburnum. It apparently survives fire by sprouting from underground rhizomes but these are shallow and easily damaged and the species decreases with exposure to repeated fires. Viburnum leaf beetle: The viburnum leaf beetle (Pyrrhalta viburni), native to Europe and Asia, was first encountered in North America in 1947, perhaps arriving earlier from Europe on nursery plants. It received little notice until 1978, when it caused severe defoliation of ornamental viburnums in Ontario and Quebec. It has now reached western New York and Maine and become a concern in urban landscapes and nurseries.

The adult and the larva “skeletonize” leaves by feeding on the leaves between the midrib and larger veins. Plants, which have been defoliated for 2-3 consecutive years, may be killed. The preferred host is Viburnum opulus and its selections; lesser damage is caused to V. lantana and V. rafinesquianum, V. dentatum, V. acerifolium, and V. lentago. Other species, particularly V. rhytidophyllum and V. carlesii, are relatively unaffected.

The entire life cycle of the viburnum leaf beetle takes about 8-10 weeks. Larvae hatch in early May and feed on the viburnum leaves throughout the larval period, which lasts 4-5 weeks. The larvae pupate in the soil. The adults (4.5-6.5 mm long, brown) appear by mid-July and continue eating the leaves, then mate and lay overwintering eggs on the twigs. Egg-laying holes are in a straight line on the underside of the current season's growth.

Chemical control of the viburnum leaf beetle is best applied to young larvae, because adults will fly away or drop to the ground if disturbed. If over-wintering egg sites are found, affected wood should be pruned and destroyed before the eggs hatch. Examine upper and lower leaf surfaces for feeding larvae. Potential biological control mechanisms are being studied.

Plant Basics
Growth Rate Slow
General Type Shrub, Subshrub
Growth Period Spring, Summer
Growth Duration Perennial
Lifespan Long
Plant Nativity Native to U.S.
Commercial Availability No Known Source
Physical Characteristics
Bloom Period Indeterminate
Displays Fall Colors Yes
Shape/Growth Form Multiple Stem
Drought Tolerance High
Shade Tolerance Tolerant
Height When Mature 6
Vegetative Spread None
Flower Color White
Flower Conspicuousness Yes
Fruit/Seed Abundance Medium
Fruit/Seed Seasonality Summer Fall
Seed Spread Rate Slow
Gardening Characteristics
Propagations (Ways to Grow) Bare Root, Container, Seed
Moisture Requirements Medium
Cold Stratification Required Yes
Minimum Temperature -28
Soil Depth for Roots 14
Toxic to Nearby Plants No
Toxic to Livestock No
After-Harvest Resprout Ability Yes
Responds to Coppicing Yes
Growth Requirements
pH Range 4.8–7.5 pH
Precipitation Range 32–32 inches/yr
Planting Density 2700–4800 indiv./acre
Soil Textures Coarse, Medium
Soil Depth for Roots 14
Minimum Frost-Free Days 115 day(s)
Salinity Tolerance None
CaCO3 Tolerance High
Sustainability & Use
Leaf Retention No
Palatability Medium
Fire Resistant No
Causes Livestock Bloating None

Source: USDA, NRCS, PLANTS Database,
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA