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Species Name:  Viburnum acerifolium

Common Name: Mapleleaf viburnum

Zone: 4 to 8

Distribution: Quebec and New Brunswick south to Florida west to Minnesota.

Seed collection: Maple leaf viburnum fruit matures in early to mid September in the northeast.  Fruit gradually changes from green to a dark bluish black color. Fruits are produced in small upright clusters. Plants seldom produce an overabundance of fruits.  Plants growing in full to half shade produce the most fruit. The fruits are eaten by birds, rodents and small mammals, but seldom disappear quickly. Fruit can often be found into late fall and winter. Collect fruits soon after ripening. Strip fruits from the branches by hand. If fruits remain uneaten, they shrivel and remain on the plant, providing late winter and early spring food.  

Seed handling: Fruit is a small oval shaped drupe.  Each fruit contains a single round flattened seed surrounded by a thin pulp.  Clean seed after collecting for storage and to improve germination. Macerate fruits by hand or for larger amounts use a food processor. The hard seed will not be damaged by the blade. Process seed until the pulp and skins are pureed. Float off the pulp, skins and any seeds that float in several changes of water. Sound seeds will sink to the bottom. Place cleaned seed under moist stratification to maintain moisture content. Cleaned seed can be sown immediately in prepared beds, planted outdoors under natural conditions or stratified for storage.
Germination requirements: Seeds require alternating periods of warm and cold temperatures to germinate, provide two months of warm/moist stratification followed by  two months cold/moist stratification followed by another period of warm/moist stratification to break dormancy. When fall planted in the ground or stratified and exposed to outside temperatures the seed will germinate uniformly the 2nd spring after collecting. A root radical emerges the summer of the first year but the shoot remains dormant through the following winter, emerging in the spring of the second year. Sow seed ¼” to ½” deep in prepared seedbeds or in native soil. Seedlings grow just a few inches tall the first summer. Half shade is recommended for seedlings the first year.

Ecology: Mapleleaf viburnum (MLV) is an important shrub for the woodland understory. Few shrubs grow in deep shade and dry soils as readily as MLV.  It grows in average to dry gravelly soils and prefers an acid to neutral pH. MLV is a common understory associate in oak hickory forests as it tolerates the same drought prone well-drained soils. MLV tolerates deep shade but grows most vigorously in dappled shade to full sun fruiting abundantly in hedgerows, forest openings and the woodland edge. MLV grows about 3 to 6 ft tall with an open, sparsely branched, multi-stemmed habit.  It suckers moderately from the roots as well as by layering whenever branches touch the ground.  Encourage MLV by sowing seed in the ground in suitable habitat. 

mapleleaf viburnum seed
Mapleleaf viburnum seed on the plant

mapleleaf viburnum seed
Mapleleaf viburnum seed ready for harvest

this page updated December 17, 2013