Viburnum dilatatum (linden viburnum)
Linden viburnum is a large shrub with neat, round leaves and flat heads of small white flowers followed by red, or sometimes yellow, fleshy berries.
About this species
Viburnum dilatatum is a common shrub in the lowlands and foothills of mountains in Japan, China and South Korea. The leaves are shaped like those of a lime tree (Tilia species), with conspicuous parallel veins, and often turn red or purple in the autumn. The berries are slightly elongated, with a dark spot (the remains of the flower) at the tip. Both red-fruited and yellow-fruited forms are cultivated. Linden viburnum was introduced into cultivation in Europe from Japan in 1875. It is more commonly cultivated in North America, where several cultivars have been selected.
Geography & Distribution
Native to Japan and northern China.
Linden viburnum is a branching shrub growing up to 3 m tall. The leaves, which are held opposite each other on the stem, are broadly ovate or egg-shaped, finely and evenly toothed, 3-12 cm long and 2-8 cm wide. The leaves have around seven pairs of parallel veins, the lower pairs branching again, and are often purplish in spring, turning red or purple in autumn. The small, pure-white flowers are borne in flat or slightly rounded heads. The berries are ovoid, about 5 mm long and are red (or yellow in the form Viburnum dilatatum f. xanthocarpum).
Illustration from Curtis's Botanical Magazine
Viburnum dilatatum painted by W.H. Fitch, taken from Curtis’s Botanical Magazine.
Curtis’s Botanical Magazine (Editor: Martyn Rix) provides an international forum of particular interest to botanists and horticulturists, plant ecologists and those with a special interest in botanical illustration.
Now well over two hundred years old, the Magazine is the longest running botanical periodical featuring colour illustrations of plants. Each four-part volume contains 24 plant portraits reproduced from watercolour originals by leading international botanical artists. Detailed but accessible articles combine horticultural and botanical information, history, conservation and economic uses of the plants described.
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Threats & Conservation
There is no indication that Viburnum dilatatum is threatened in the wild. It is commonly cultivated in North America. Samples of V. dilatatum seeds have been stored in Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank as an ex situ conservation measure.
Popular as an ornamental for shrubberies, windbreaks or light shade in open woodland, linden viburnum is grown particularly for its colourful berries in the autumn. The leaves, stems and berries are used in traditional Chinese medicine. The berries are cooked to make a soup used in the treatment of snake bite, dysentery and as a vermifuge.
Millennium Seed Bank: Seed storage
Kew's Millennium Seed Bank Partnership aims to save plant life world wide, focusing on plants under threat and those of most use in the future. Seeds are dried, packaged and stored at a sub-zero temperature in our seed bank vault.
Number of seed collections stored in the Millennium Seed Bank: Two.
Linden viburnum can be grown easily in good soil with reasonable drainage. Other viburnums such as Viburnum opulus (guelder rose) tolerate waterlogged soil.
This species at Kew
Viburnum dilatatum is grown in the area between the Palm House and King William’s Temple at Kew. At Wakehurst Place, V. dilatatum can be seen growing on the slope above the study centre in Westwood Valley.
The Economic Botany Collection contains samples of leaves and wood from V. dilatatum, which are available to researchers by appointment.
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