Linden viburnum (Viburnum dilatatum)
An ornamental shrub commonly planted in landscapes, Linden viburnum invades the understory of forests and thrives in the shade. Be on the lookout for Linden viburnum’s bright red cluster of fruit in the fall persisting into December. This invasive shrub has creamy white flowers in clusters in the spring.
Ecological threat: Linden viburnum is quick growing and reaches up to 20 feet high shading out native plants that wildlife need for food and habitat. Each shrub can produce hundreds of seeds and young seedlings cover the ground in infested areas. Deer assist in the spread as they do not eat this invasive shrub and prefer native plants.
Method of spread: Linden viburnum seeds are spread by birds.
Preferred habitat: Understory forests and forest edges. This species is very shade tolerant but can also grow in full sun.
Removal method: For manual control, when infestations are small, shrubs can be dug up by the roots. Roots will re-sprout if left in the ground and repeated cutting is needed throughout the growing season as new growth appears. DO NOT compost the seeds or cuttings.
For chemical control, basal bark treatment applied between July and September is very effective. Cut-stump, for example with glyphosate, and foliar applications are also effective. Always follow the herbicide label instructions. More information on control is available at Lower Hudson Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management.
Native look alike: Linden viburnum looks very similar to our native Arrowood viburnum (Viburnum dentatum). The distinguishing characteristics are that Linden viburnum’s young twigs are softly fuzzy and the leaves are fuzzy and shallowly toothed along the margin. The leaves tend to be more circular than Arrowood viburnum leaves. Also, in the fall the fruit of Linden viburnum is red, not deep purple to black like most of our native Viburnums.
Note that Linden viburnum also looks similar to the less common Downy Arrow-wood Viburnum (Viburnum rafinesqueanum) which is also native to New Jersey.
New Jersey has many native viburnums including Blackhaw viburnum (Viburnum prunifolium) and American cranberrybush (Viburnum opulus L. var. Americanum) to name a few.
Smooth Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens) can grow up to 6 ft in dry to average soil in part shade to shade.
All of these shrubs have large white clusters of flowers in the spring.
Additional resources for controlling Linden viburnum and native alternatives:
Read past issues of “Invasive Species of the Month” series.
The goal of Rutgers Cooperative Extension’s “Invasive Species of the Month” is to highlight those organisms that are non-native to New Jersey and cause economic or environmental harm, or harm to human health. We can all help prevent the spread of invasives by learning which species are a threat to our ecosystems.