Monday, February 13, 2012

The Burning Bush? Well Maybe Not

Rusty Blackhaw Replacing The Burning Bush

Ralph Edge Shares The Burning Bush

The Burning Bush Replaced by the Rusty Blackhaw by Ralph Edge

Every year I have requests for the “burning bush” Euonymus alatus. Perhaps it is because everyone wants a red fall color and fall has just left us and they are trying to prepare for next fall, or maybe they are trying to get some biblical perspective into their landscape. Either way, I do my best to direct them away from that particular plant. Yes, it does have a brilliant red fall color and yes it does have a cool name and unusual growth along its branches, but it is capable of being invasive, grows taller than you will ever want, and above all it is a euonymus. Need I say more? It is a deciduous shrub native to eastern Asia, with an unusual cork growth along the branches similar to a wing, hence the name alatus, Latin for winged.

But I do have a recommendation for great red fall color and it is native to around here serving Dallas landscapes very well. I have borrowed a great synopsis from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin for basic information. So allow me to introduce you to the Rusty Blackhaw viburnum, my vote for the plant of the week……

Rusty Blackhaw

Dallas Landscaping from CGreen Landscape Irrigation

Viburnum rufidulum Raf.
Rusty blackhaw viburnum, Rusty blackhaw, Southern blackhaw, Downy viburnum

Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle Family)
USDA Native Status: Native to U.S.

This viburnum is a shrub or tree, usually growing to 18 ft. but sometimes taller with bark separating into dark, rectangular plates. Twigs reddish brown with a thin light gray coating. Leaves in pairs, often on short spurs, the petioles covered with rust colored, branched hairs visible under a l0x hand lens; blades up to 3 1/2 inches long, elliptic to oval or ovate, tip rounded or with a broad point, base rounded or broadly wedge shaped, margins finely serrate, firm textured with a shiny upper surface. Glossy, dark-green, deciduous leaves turn a variety of warm hues in autumn. Flowers white, from 1/4 to 3/8 inch wide, in rounded or flattened clusters up to 4 inches wide, appearing in March and April and noticeable from a distance in early spring. Fruit fleshy, bluish black lightened by a waxy coating, up to 1/2 inch long, slightly longer than wide.

Rusty Blackhaw is distinguished from the more northerly Blackhaw, Viburnum prunifolium, primarily by the reddish-brown hairs on foliage and other parts, as well as by the slightly larger leaves and paler blue fruit. The Latin species name, meaning reddish, also refers to the hairs. The two species intergrade where their ranges meet.

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Opposite
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Elliptic
Size Notes: 15-25
Size Class: 12-36 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Apr , May

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry

Cold Tolerant: yes

Soil Description: Dry soils. Limestone-based, Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay

Conditions Comments: Slow-growing. Hard to propagate. With its waxy leaves, rusty blackhaw presents excellent fall hues of red, lavender, pink, and orange. Tiny clusters of flowers bloom in spring. In Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas, Correll and Johnston noted that the fruit tastes similar to raisins. Rusty blackhaw is good for understory plantings. Birds appreciate the fruit.


Use Ornamental: Showy, Understory tree, Fall conspicuous, Attractive
Use Wildlife: Nectar-bees, Nectar-butterflies, Nectar-insects, Fruit-birds, Fruit-mammals
Interesting Foliage: yes
Attracts: Birds
Deer Resistant: Moderate

Rusty Blackhaw Winter Color by CGreen Landscape Irrigation

Figure 1 Rusty Blackhaw winter color

Rusty Blackhaw Fruit by CGreenFigure 2. Rusty Blackhaw fruit

This spring, think red fall color and when you do think outside the box and think of Rusty Blackhaw viburnum. (Many thanks to Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center for the excellent information)

Enjoy the Life!!        

1 comment:

  1. Rusty Blackhaw Fruit by CGreenFigure 2. Rusty Blackhaw fruit......flowering shrubs