Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio feature: Read the plant label
Sounds simple doesn’t it? Well…..
Let’s take Viburnum for instance. This group of shrubs consists of more than 150 species and cultivars. Light preferences can vary from full sun to shade, heights vary from 2 feet to 30 feet and, some berries are edible while others are not! You really need to know what cultivar will fit your needs.
The Viburnum called ‘Highbush Cranberry’ is known as Viburnum Trilobum in latin. This bush will grow to 15 feet tall, is hardy to zone 2 and the red fruit is often made into jams and jellies.
Contrast that with another viburnum, ‘Compact Korean Spice’ or viburnum carlesii reaches just 5 feet tall, has fragrant flowers and blue/black fruit fit for wildlife.
Latin names can be really tough to pronounce and nearly impossible to remember, however, they provide a lot more information than the common names do!
Speaking of common names, the Highbush cranberry is also known as American Cranberry, dog rowan, rose elder, and European cranberry bush. There is a real cultivar called European Cranberry bush known in latin as viburnum opulus whose fruit is reportedly not edible.
It all comes down to reading the plant label very carefully. Especially when selecting more expensive shrubs and trees. you want to make sure you’re really getting what you want!