American cranberrybush

Prepared by Jennifer L. D’Appollonio, Assistant Scientist, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469. Updated February 2018.

Scientific name: Viburnum opulus L. var americanum Aiton.

Common name(s): American cranberrybush, American cranberrybush viburnum, highbush-cranberry, cranberry viburnum

Link(s): USDA PLANTS Profile, NPIN Profile, Go Botany

Images: (to see enlargements [PC]: click on image, then right click and choose “view image”)


-erect native shrub

-can reach 6-10 feet in height

-close branching

-leaves are

  • opposite
  • 3-lobed maple-like leaves
  • 2 to 5 inches long
  • In the fall the leaves become scarlet.

-white flowers bloom late May and early June and measure 3 to 4 inches across

-The fruit ripens in September and October

  • resembles the true cranberry in size and color
  • is more translucent when ripe

– may be confused with V. acerifolium; see left sidebar on Go Botany webpage

– two subspecies in New England, the native ssp. trilobum and non-native ssp. opulus; see Flora Novae Angliae information on Go Botany webpage


-well drained to poorly drained soils


-can be used as a windbreaker

-source of wildlife food

-Twigs are eaten by deer, moose and beaver

-Fruits are food for ruffed grouse,  pheasants and songbirds.

Natural History:

-the fruit has been used o make preserves



USDA. “AMERICAN CRANBERRYBUSHViburnum Opulus L. Var. Americanum Ait.” Plant Fact Sheet , USDA NRCS Plant Materials Program, Feb. 2002,

Haines, A., Farnsworth, E., Morrison, G., & New England Wild Flower Society. (2011). New England Wildflower Society’s Flora Novae Angliae: A manual for the identification of native and naturalized higher vascular plants of New England. Framingham, MA: New England Wild Flower Society. p. 310.