Viburnum lantanoides

A note for those of you who like to point out your desire for a full photograph of the plant in the comments or by email: please follow the links in the text. It’s uncommon that one of the various BPotD writers won’t link to full plant images — we do try to accommodate!

Hobblebush is a shrub native to eastern North America. It is so named because it is often responsible for hobbling, or tripping, those who walk in the shaded forests where it grows; its pendulous branches touch the ground and root at the contact point, creating natural tripwires. The shrub often reaches a height of 2.5-3.5m, but Dirr, in Viburnums — Flowering Shrubs for Every Season, writes of an encounter with a plant 4.5m high by 5.5m wide on Monhegan Island in Maine.

It was challenging for me in New Brunswick to be in an area where the plants, broadly speaking, were familiar but many of the species were unknown to me. Fortunately, in this case, I had a giant clue as to this plant’s identity: the “praying hands” leaf buds of Viburnum are quite diagnostic of the genus. Even though I thought the plant was something else due to the large, ovate leaves, a close look at the buds pushed me in the right direction of identifying it as Viburnum. A quick perusal of a text with illustrations of Viburnum leaves in eastern North America led me directly to Viburnum lantanoides.

On a different topic for local readers: there are two presentations tomorrow (Wednesday) that may pique your interest. At 5:15pm (coffee at 4:30pm), former director of IPGRI (now Bioversity International) Dr. Geoffrey Hawtin will be speaking as part of the Namkoong Family Lecture Series: Saving the World’s Heritage: Some Recent Initiatives to Safeguard Plant Genetic Diversity (PDF). At 7pm, former UBC Botanical Garden director Quentin Cronk will be talking at the Native Plant Society of BC’s South Coast Meeting on The Peavines of BC, or the genus Lathyrus. I have plans to attend both, so hopefully I’ll see you there!

Viburnum lantanoides

9 responses to “Viburnum lantanoides”

  1. Deborah Lievens

    Hi Daniel, One of my favorite woods plants for so many reasons. I can never stop taking pictures of it. Buds, blooms, leaf venation, berries, fall color, but not the least is that it is “nature’s toilet paper”. My daughter picked this up at Girl Scout camp one summer and I have benefited from that knowledge on countless occasions in the NH woods. But I’ve never heard the “praying hands” hint before. That is great. Thanks.

  2. Er.We

    an excellent macro, thank you!

  3. Dori

    Praying hands? Well OK, yes. But really, that was not the first thing that came to mind.

  4. Carolina

    I have never seen this plant, the info provided is very interesting. I can see the praying hands, but I can also see a cheer leader jumping 🙂 Nice photo!

  5. Quin

    Ha, Dori! Love that! Besides that it looks like a shot, down from over my head, doing the breast stroke, the old nose right in there!

  6. elizabeth a airhart

    it would be a vampire cheer leader
    the links are great the nova scotia
    wild flora society has a fine site
    i have found finding state flora societys
    and country flora sites a big help
    this plant has worked its way into florida
    thank you daniel we do understand how
    you aim to please all of us
    just look at the cluster map busy day

  7. Cambree

    Lovely plant! I can see the praying hands… and the cheerleader too. A stick skinny one like Olive Oyl (of Popeye). Especially the nose 🙂
    http://searchpartygraphics.com/gallery/artworks/popolivelarge.jpg

  8. Jacqueline

    Dori, you’re right on the money! Beautiful shot!

  9. De Kemist

    I’ve never seen this plant.It’s a wonderful discovery I’ve come across.

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