Species Name: Viburnum lentago
Common Name: Nannyberry
Zone: 3 to 7
Distribution: native from Quebec south to Virginia.
Seed collection: Nannyberry fruit matures in early September in the northeast. Fruit gradually changes from green to bluish black color. The fruits are readily eaten by many species of birds especially during migration. If fruits are uneaten, the fruit shrivel on the plant, providing late winter and spring food for birds on their return in the spring. Collect fruits soon after ripening to bet the birds to the fruit.
Seed handling: Fruit is an oval shaped drupe. Each fruit contains one round flattened hard seed surrounded by a waxy pulp. Clean seed soon after collecting. Seed can be cleaned by hand or a food processor used to remove the pulp and skins. The hard seed will not be damaged by the food processor blade. Macerate fruits and float off the pulp, skins and any seeds that float. Sound seeds will sink to the bottom. Place cleaned seed under stratification within one to two weeks of cleaning to maintain moisture content of seed. Cleaned seed can be sown immediately in prepared beds, planted under natural conditions or stratified for planting in the spring.
Germination requirements: Seeds require a period of warm/moist stratification followed by cold/moist stratification followed by another period of warm/moist stratification to break dormancy. When fall planted the seed will germinate uniformly the 2nd spring after planting. A root radical emerges the first summer after fall planting. The shoot remains dormant through the winter, emerging the following spring. Sow seed ¼” to ½” deep in prepared seed beds or in natural soils. Seedling size can range from a few inches to 6 to 8” the first summer. Seedlings can grow in full sun to half shade the first season. Shade is recommended for seedlings the first year.
Ecology: Nannyberry is an important large native wildlife shrub. Nannyberry is tolerant of a full range of soil conditions including heavy clay. It grows in average soils to wet poorly drained soils. Nannyberry produces abundant fruit which is a preferred fall and winter food for many birds. Nannyberry naturally grows in old fields, hedgerows, forest margins, flood plains, wooded swamps and shrub wetlands. It prefers full sun but will tolerate a fair amount of shade. Nannyberry grows from 15 to 20 ft tall. Its multi-stemmed habit provides nesting cover and habit for many bird species.
Nannyberry is easy to establish from seed. Plant it widely in suitable habitat. It grows reasonably fast and is fairly resistant to deer and rabbit browsing.
Nannyberry fruit in fall. Collect as soon as the fruit matures in early September.
this page updated February 5, 2011