Saturday, May 01, 2010

Guelder Rose/ Almindelig kvalkved/Viburnum opulus

Guelder rose is a deciduous bush with an open growth. The barch is first lightbrown and smooth, later light grey with spread barch pits. The buds are opposite, round, smooth and red. The leaves are egg-shaped with a winding edge. Upon the red stalk are up to 7 nectare-glands. The upperside of leaves is light green, while the underside is hairy and grey-green. The autumn colour is red. It flowers after leafing in June. The flowers are gathered in umbels, where the edge-flowers are large but barren, and the middle flowers are small and fertile. The red berries ripen well and the seeds germinate willingly. The whole bush including the tempting red berries is poisonous. The flowers are visited by many insects, the red berries eaten by birds in the end of winter. The bush has down-laying branches, which easily take root.

Viburnum opulus creates underwood and edge of woods in mixed hardwoods in wet and mineral-rich soil everywhere in Europe and large parts of Asia. It is also found in North America (ssp. trilobum). In Denmark it is found all over the country, mostly in edge of woods and hedgerows, but often close to the coast like in several places in North Jutland and along the Limfjorden. It is often found together with elderberry, wild apple, blackthorn and hawthorn. It thrives best in moist nutrient soil, but is able to grow in almost any type of earth. It thrives both in much light and half shadow, and endures wind and frost.

The common Kvalkved/Viburnum opulus is easy to distinguish from the other Danish species, pibekvalkved (Viburnum lantana), which has whole leaves, the flower umbels are larger with uniform flowers, and the fruits are black when ripe.
Kvalkved is suitable for planting under light-open forest trees like birch, elm, oak, maple and bird cherry. It is spread and reproduced both by seeds and root-shoots. Berry-eating birds love the berries, especially winter-birds like fieldfares and waxwings eat the late ripened berries, which are poisonous to humans.

Viburnum opulus have been tested in new 6-rows experimental hedges, where they do well. The bush creates a beautiful image in spring with the white flowers and in autumn with the strong red colours of fruits and leaves.

Viburnum opulus should be used in a mix with other species. It might be attacked by a sickness : sodskimmel (= soot mildew) and by insects, which more or less remove the leaves.
Viburnum opulus was earlier use in alternative medicine, but has no longer any practical application.

English version on wikipedia : Viburnum opulus

photo Vestamager and Bjerre Skov 2008/2009: grethe bachmann


Lisa said...

Interesting. I drove to the post office this morning and see the Viburnum that's native to this area, everywhere! I have no idea why I never learned what it is. Several years ago I made it a point to learn every wild flower in my yard and surrounding area, and whether or not I could eat it. I somehow missed this small, but quite larger than a flower, tree/bush. It's gorgeaous. I've yet to smell it and see if it has nice scent. That is what I will do this evening. It's interesting to see what all this tree is good for. My what we learned from our ancestors huh? I'll bet many died testing the stuff first. Thanks.

Thyra said...

Hej! I know that the Snowball bush in the garden has a wonderful scent, and I can see from your beautiful English names of Viburnum that it is also named Snowball bush, so... I haven' scented the Viburnum opulus I meet in the forest. As you see I've only got autumn photos with berries, the little photo I have borrowed from my son.
I think you're right that our ancestors lived a dangerous life! And many of those poisonous berries look so tempting! `)
Cheers and Thanks for visiting!

MyMaracas said...

Viburnums are among my favorite plants. We have both cultivated and wild varieties, and all are beautiful.

Thanks for stopping by at my blog, and for your kind comment. It's nice to know others are sentimental about their "stuff" too.