Heirloom & Perennial Ltd

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Viburnum opulus, Guelder Rose (Water Elder, European Cranberrybush, Cramp Bark, Snowball Tree)


The Guelder Rose is a very ornamental deciduous shrub growing up to 4–5m tall, commonly grown in the flower garden. It is hardy to about -30°c. It's flowers are snowy white, pollinated by insects, and it's berries are bright red, attracts many species of birds. It regenerates quickly if it is cut to the ground, it can also produce suckers and will often form thickets.

The plant is an alternative host for the broad bean aphid.

A red dye is obtained from the fruit.

An ink can be made from the dried berries.

Plants can be grown as a tall hedge, they are rather bare in winter though.

The wood can be used to make skewers.

Requires 2 months warm then 3 months cold stratification and can still take 18 months to germinate. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a cold frame or greenhouse. Plant out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer of the following year.

An easily grown plant, it succeeds in most soils but is ill-adapted for poor soils and for dry situations. It prefers a deep rich moist loamy soil in a sunny position. Succeeds in semi-shade but does not grow or fruit so well in such a position. Grows well in heavy clay soils and on chalk. Does not do well on very acid soils. Best if given shade from the early morning sun in spring.

Edible uses:

Fruit - raw or cooked. The fruit is up to 8.5mm in diameter but with a large seed. A sour taste, it is best cooked. The crushed fruit has an unpleasant smell. Used as a cranberry substitute in making, jellies, preserves etc.

Some caution is advised, large quantities of the fruit can cause vomiting and diarrhoea. The fruit is of very low or zero toxicity, it only causes mild upsets when eaten unripe or in large quantities.


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